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THE MUQADDIMAH 

Abd Ar Rahman bin Muhammed ibn Khaldun 

Translated by 

Franz Rosenthal 


Table of Contents 


Table of Contents 


Introductory material 

Introductory material of Book One. Kitab al 'Ibar 

Preliminary Remarks 


Chapter I Human civilization in general 

Chapter II Bedouin civilization, savage nations and tribes and their conditions 
of life, including several basic and explanatory statements 


Chapter III On dynasties, royal authority, the caliphate, government ranks, and 
all that goes with these things. The chapter contains basic and 

supplementary propositions 

Chapter IV Countries and cities, and all other forms of sedentary civilization. 
The conditions occurring there. Primary and secondary 

considerations in this connection 


Chapter V On the various aspects of making a living, such as profit and the 
crafts. The conditions that occur in this connection. A number of 

problems are connected with this subject 

Chapter VI The various kinds of sciences. The methods of instruction. The 

conditions that obtain in these connections. The chapter includes a 

prefatory discussion and appendices 


Concluding Remarks 

Selected Bibliography. Walter J. Fischel 


Table of Contents 


Introductory material 

translator ' s introduction 

Introductory material of Book One. Kitab al 'Ibar 

Preliminary Remarks 


Chapter I Human civilization in general 

Chapter II Bedouin civilization, savage nations and tribes and their conditions 
of life, including several basic and explanatory statements 


Chapter III On dynasties, royal authority, the caliphate, government ranks. 

and all that goes with these things. The chapter contains basic 

and supplementary propositions 

Chapter IV Countries and cities, and all other forms of sedentary civilization. 
The conditions occurring there. Primary and secondary 

considerations in this connection 


Chapter V On the various aspects of making a living, such as profit and the 
crafts. The conditions that occur in this connection. A number of 

problems are connected with this subject 

Chapter VI The various kinds of sciences. The methods of instruction. The 

conditions that obtain in these connections. The chapter includes a 

prefatory discussion and appendices 


Concluding Remarks 

Selected Bibliography. Walter J. Fischel 


Table of Contents 


Introductory material 

Introductory material of Book One, Kitab al 'Ibar 

INVOCATION 

FOREWORD 

INTRODUCTION 


Preliminary Remarks 


Chapter I Human civilization in general 

Chapter II Bedouin civilization, savage nations and tribes and their conditions 
of life, including several basic and explanatory statements 


Chapter III On dynasties, royal authority, the caliphate, government ranks. 

and all that goes with these things. The chapter contains basic 

and supplementary propositions 

Chapter IV Countries and cities, and all other forms of sedentary civilization. 
The conditions occurring there. Primary and secondary 

considerations in this connection 


Chapter V On the various aspects of making a living, such as profit and the 
crafts. The conditions that occur in this connection. A number of 

problems are connected with this subject 

Chapter VI The various kinds of sciences. The methods of instruction. The 

conditions that obtain in these connections. The chapter includes a 

prefatory discussion and appendices 


Concluding Remarks 

Selected Bibliography. Walter J. Fischel 


Book One of the Kitab al-'Ibar 


H] 


The nature of civilization. Bedouin 
and settled life, the achievement of superiority, 
gainful occupations, ways of making a living, sciences, 
crafts, and all the other things that affect 
( civilization ). The causes 
and reasons thereof. 


IT- SHOULD be known that history, in matter of fact, is information about 
human social organization, which itself is identical with world civilization. It deals 
with such conditions affecting the nature of civilization as, for instance, savagery 
and sociability, group feelings, and the different ways by which one group of human 
beings achieves superiority over another It deals with royal authority and the 
dynasties that result (in this manner) and with the various ranks that exist within 
them. (It further deals) with the different kinds of gainful occupations and ways of 
making a living, with the sciences and crafts that human beings pursue as part of 
their activities and efforts, and with all the other institutions that originate in 
civilization through its very nature. 

Untruth naturally afflicts historical information. There are various reasons 
that make this unavoidable. One of them is partisanship for opinions and schools. If 
the soul is impartial in receiving information, it devotes to that information the share 
of critical investigation the information deserves, and its truth or untruth thus 
becomes clear. However, if the soul is infected with partisanship for a particular 
opinion or sect, it accepts without a moment's hesitation the information that is 
agreeable to it. Prejudice and partisanship obscure the critical faculty and preclude 
critical investigation. The result is that falsehoods are accepted and transmitted. 

Another reason making untruth unavoidable in historical information is 
reliance upon transmitters. Investigation of this subject belongs to (the theological 
discipline of) personality criticism . 2 

Another reason is unawareness of the purpose of an event. Many a 
transmitter does not know the real significance of his observations or of the things 
he has learned about orally. He transmits the information, attributing to it the 
significance he assumes or imagines it to have. The result is falsehood. 

Another reason is unfounded assumption as to the truth of a thing. This is 
frequent. It results mostly from reliance upon transmitters. 

Another reason is ignorance of how conditions conform with reality. — 
Conditions are affected by ambiguities and artificial distortions. The informant 
reports the conditions as he saw them but on account of artificial distortions he 
himself has no true picture of them. 

Another reason is the fact that people as a rule approach great and high- 


ranking persons with praise and encomiums. They embellish conditions and spread 
the fame (of great men). The information made public in such cases is not truthful. 
Human souls long for praise, and people pay great attention to this world and the 
positions and wealth it offers. As a rule, they feel no desire for virtue and have no 
special interest in virtuous people. 

Another reason making untruth unavoidable - and this one is more powerful 
than all the reasons previously mentioned is ignorance of the nature of the various 
conditions arising in civilization. Every event (or phenomenon), whether (it comes 
into being in connection with some) essence or (as the result of an) action, must 
inevitably possess a nature peculiar to its essence as well as to the accidental 
conditions that may attach themselves to it. If the student knows the nature of events 
and the circumstances and requirements in the world of existence, it will help him to 
distinguish truth from untruth in investigating the historical information critically. 
This is more effective in critical investigation than any other aspect that may be 
brought up in connection with it. 

Students often happen to accept and transmit absurd information that, in turn, 

is believed on their authority. AlMas'udi,- for instance, reports such a story about 
Alexander. Sea monsters prevented Alexander from building Alexandria. He took a 
wooden container in which a glass box was inserted, and dived in it to the bottom of 
the sea. There he drew pictures of the devilish monsters he saw. He then had metal 
effigies of these animals made and set them up opposite the place where building 
was going on. When the monsters came out and saw the effigies, they fled. 

Alexander was thus able to complete the building of Alexandria. 

It is a long story, made up of nonsensical elements which are absurd for 
various reasons. Thus, (Alexander is said) to have taken a glass box and braved the 

sea and its waves in person. Now, rulers would not take such a risk .- Any ruler who 
would attempt such a thing would work his own undoing and provoke the outbreak 
of revolt against himself, and (he would) be replaced by the people with someone 
else. That would be his end. People would not (even) wait one moment for him to 
return from the (dangerous) risk he is taking. 

Furthermore, the jinn are not known to have specific forms and effigies. 

They are able to take on various forms. The story of the many heads they have is 
intended to indicate ugliness and frightfulness. It is not meant to be taken literally. 

All this throws suspicion upon the story. Yet, the element in it that makes the 
story absurd for reasons based on the facts of existence is more convincing than all 
the other (arguments). Were one to go down deep into the water, even in a box, one 

would have too little air for natural breathing. Because of that, one's spirit- would 
quickly become hot. Such a man would lack the cold air necessary to maintain a 
well-balanced humor of the lung and the vital spirit. He would perish on the spot. 
This is the reason why people perish in hot baths when cold air is denied to them. It 
also is the reason why people who go down into deep wells and dungeons perish 
when the air there becomes hot through putrefaction, and no winds enter those places 
to stir the air up. Those who go down there perish immediately. This also is the 
reason why fish die when they leave the water, for the air is not sufficient for (a fish) 
to balance its lung. (The fish) is extremely hot, and the water to balance it's humor is 
cold. The air into which (the fish) now comes is hot. Heat, thus, gains power over its 
animal spirit, and it perishes at once. This also is the reason for sudden death,- and 
similar things. 

Al-Mas'udi reports another absurd story, that of the Statue of the Starling in 

Rome- On a fixed day of the year, starlings gather at that statue bringing olives 
from which the inhabitants of Rome get their oil. How little this has to do with the 


natural procedure of getting oil! 

Another absurd story is reported by al-Bakri. It concerns the way the so- 

called "Gate City" was built.- That city had a circumference of more than a thirty 
days' journey and had ten thousand gates. Now, cities are used for security and 
protection, as will be mentioned.- Such a city, however, could not be controlled and 
would offer no security or protection. 

Then, there is also al-Mas'udi's story of the "Copper City." — This is said to 

be a city built wholly of copper in the desert of Sijilmasah which Musa b. Nusayr — 
crossed on his raid against the Maghrib. The gates of (the Copper City) are said to 
be closed. When the person who climbs the walls of the city in order to enter it, 
reaches the top, he claps his hand and throws himself down and never returns. All 
this is an absurd story. It belongs to the idle talk of storytellers. The desert of 
Sijilmasah has been crossed by travelers and guides. They have not come across any 
information about such a city.— All the details mentioned about it are absurd, (if 
compared with) the customary state of affairs. They contradict the natural facts that 
apply to the building and planning of cities. Metal exists at best in quantities 
sufficient for utensils and furnishings. It is clearly absurd and unlikely that there 
would be enough to cover a city with it. 

There — are many similar things. Only knowledge of the nature of 
civilization makes critical investigation of them possible. It is the best and most 
reliable way to investigate historical information critically and to distinguish truth 
and falsehood in it. It is superior to investigations that rely upon criticism of the 
personalities of transmitters. Such personality criticism should not be resorted to 
until it has been ascertained whether a specific piece of information is in itself 
possible, or not. If it is absurd, there is no use engaging in personality criticism. 
Critical scholars consider absurdity inherent in the literal meaning of historical 
information, or an interpretation not acceptable to the intellect, as something that 
makes such information suspect. Personality criticism is taken into consideration 
only in connection with the soundness (or lack of soundness) of Muslim religious 
information, because this religious information mostly concerns injunctions in 
accordance with which the Lawgiver (Muhammad) enjoined Muslims to act 
whenever it can be presumed that the information is genuine. The way to achieve 
presumptive soundness is to ascertain the probity ('adalah) and exactness of the 
transmitters. 

On the other hand, to establish the truth and soundness of information about 
factual happenings, a requirement to consider is the conformity (or lack of 
conformity of the reported information with general conditions). Therefore, it is 
necessary to investigate whether it is possible that the (reported facts) could have 
happened. This is more important than, and has priority over, personality criticism. 

For the correct notion about something that ought to be— can be derived only from 
(personality criticism), while the correct notion about something that was can be 
derived from (personality criticism) and external (evidence) by (checking) the 
conformity (of the historical report with general conditions). 

If — this is so, the normative method for distinguishing right from wrong in 
historical information on the grounds of (inherent) possibility or absurdity, is to 
investigate human social organization, which is identical with civilization. We must 
distinguish the conditions that attach themselves to the essence of civilization as 
required by its very nature; the things that are accidental (to civilization) and cannot 
be counted on; and the things that cannot possibly attach themselves to it. If we do 
that, we shall have a normative method for distinguishing right from wrong and 


truth from falsehood in historical information by means of a logical demonstration 
that admits of no doubts. Then whenever we hear about certain conditions occurring 
in civilization, we shall know what to accept and what to declare spurious. We shall 
have a sound yardstick with the help of which historians may find the path of truth 
and correctness where their reports are concerned. 

Such — is the purpose of this first book of our work. (The subject) is in a 
way an independent science. (This science) has its own peculiar object-that is, 
human civilization and social organization. It also has its own peculiar problems, 
that is, explaining the conditions that attach themselves to the essence of civilization, 
one after the other. Thus, the situation is the same with this science as it is with any 

other science, whether it be a conventional — or an intellectual one. 

It should be known that the discussion of this topic is something new, 
extraordinary, and highly useful. Penetrating research has shown the way to it. It 
does not belong to rhetoric, one of the logical disciplines (represented in Aristotle's 
Organon), the subject of which is convincing words by means of which the mass is 

inclined to accept a particular opinion or not to accept it.— It is also not politics, 
because politics is concerned with the administration of home or city in accordance 
with ethical and philosophical requirements, for the purpose of directing the mass 
toward a behavior that will result in the preservation and permanence of the (human) 
species. 

The subject here is different from that of these two disciplines which, 
however, are often similar to it. In a way, it is an entirely original science. In fact, I 
have not come across a discussion along these lines by anyone. I do not know if this 
is because people have been unaware of it, but there is no reason to suspect them (of 
having been unaware of it). Perhaps they have written exhaustively on this topic, 

and their work did not reach us.— There are many sciences. There have been 
numerous sages among the nations of mankind. The knowledge that has not come 
down to us is larger than the knowledge that has. Where are the sciences of the 

Persians that 'Umar ordered wiped out at the time of the conquest! — Where are the 
sciences of the Chaldaeans, the Syrians, and the Babylonians, and the scholarly 
products and results that were theirs! Where are the sciences of the Copts, their 
predecessors! The sciences of only one nation, the Greek, have come down to us, 
because they were translated through al-Ma'mun's efforts. (His efforts in this 
direction) were successful, because he had many translators at his disposal and spent 
much money in this connection. Of the sciences of others, nothing has come to our 
attention. 

The accidents involved in every manifestation of nature and intellect deserve 
study. Any topic that is understandable and real requires its own special science. In 
this connection, scholars seem to have been interested (mainly) in the results (of the 
individual sciences). As far as the subject under discussion is concerned, the result, 
as we have seen, is just historical information. Although the problems it raises are 
important, both essentially and specifically, (exclusive concern for it) leads to one 
result only: the mere verification of historical information. This is not much. 
Therefore, scholars might have avoided the subject. 

God knows better. "And you were given but little knowledge." — 

In the field under consideration here, we encounter (certain) problems, 
treated incidentally by scholars among the arguments applicable to their particular 
sciences, but that in object and approach are of the same type as the problems (we 
are discussing). In connection with the arguments for prophecy, for instance, 
scholars mention that human beings cooperate with each other for their existence 


and, therefore, need men to arbitrate among them and exercise a restraining 

influence. ^ Or, in the science of the principles of jurisprudence, in the chapter of 
arguments for the necessity of languages, mention is made of the fact that people 
need means to express their intentions because by their very nature, cooperation and 

social organization are made easier by proper expressions -- Or, in connection with 
the explanation that laws have their reason in the purposes they are to serve, the 
jurists mention that adultery confuses pedigrees and destroys the (human) species; 
that murder, too, destroys the human species; that injustice invites the destruction of 
civilization with the necessary consequence that the (human) species will be 

destroyed. 24 Other similar things are stated in connection with the purposes 
embedded in laws. All (laws) are based upon the effort to preserve civilization. 
Therefore, (the laws) pay attention to the things that belong to civilization. This is 
obvious from our references to these problems which are mentioned as 
representative (of the general situation). 

We also find a few of the problems of the subject under discussion (treated) 
in scattered statements by the sages of mankind. However, they did not exhaust the 
subject. For instance, we have the speech of the Mobedhan before Bahram b. 

Bahram in the story of the owl reported by al-Mas'udi — It runs: "O king, the might 
of royal authority materializes only through the ' religious law, obedience toward 
God, and compliance with His commands and prohibitions. The religious law 
persists only through royal authority. Mighty royal authority is accomplished only 
through men. Men persist only with the help of property. The only way to property 

or 

is through cultivation.— The only way to cultivation is through justice. Justice is a 
balance set up among mankind. The Lord set it up and appointed an overseer for it, 
and that (overseer) is the ruler." 

There also is a statement by Anosharwan — to the same effect: "Royal 
authority exists through the army, the army through money, money through taxes, 
taxes through cultivation, cultivation through justice, justice through the 
improvement of officials, the improvement of officials through the forthrightness of 
wazirs, and the whole thing in the first place through the ruler's personal supervision 
of his subjects' condition and his ability to educate them, so that he may rule them, 
and not they him." 

In the Book on Politics that is ascribed to Aristotle and has wide circulation, 
we find a good deal about (the subject which is under discussion here). (The 
treatment,) however, is not exhaustive, nor is the topic provided with all the argu- 
ments it deserves, and it is mixed with other things. In the book, (the author) 

referred to such general (ideas) — as we have reported on the authority of the 
Mobedhan and Anosharwan. He arranged his statement in a remarkable circle that 
he discussed at length. It runs as follows: — "The world is a garden the fence of 
which is the dynasty. The dynasty is an authority through which life is given to 
proper behavior. Proper behavior is a policy directed by the ruler. The ruler is an 
institution supported by the soldiers. The soldiers are helpers who are maintained by 
money. Money is sustenance brought together by the subjects. The subjects are 
servants who are protected by justice. Justice is something familiar,— and through it, 
the world persists. The world is a garden ...", and then it begins again from the 
beginning. These are eight sentences of political wisdom. They are connected with 
each other, the end of each one leading into the beginning of the next. They are held 
together in a circle with no definite beginning or end. (The author) was proud of 
what he had hit upon and made much of the significance of the sentences. 

When our discussion in the section on royal authority and dynasties — has 


been studied and due critical attention given to it, it will be found to constitute an 
exhaustive, very clear, fully substantiated interpretation and detailed exposition of 
these sentences. We became aware of these things with God's help and without the 
instruction of Aristotle or the teaching of the Mobedhan. 

The statements of Ibn al-Muqaffa— and the excursions on political subjects 
in his treatises also touch upon many of the problems of our work. However, (Ibn al- 
Muqaffa') did not substantiate his statements with arguments as we have done. He 
merely mentioned them in passing in the (flowing) prose style and eloquent verbiage 
of the rhetorician. 

Judge Abu Bakr at-Turtushi— also had the same idea in the Kitab Siraj al- 
Muluk. He divided the work into chapters that come close to the chapters and 
problems of our work. However, he did not achieve his aim or realize his intention. 
He did not exhaust the problems and did not bring clear proofs. He sets aside a 
special chapter for a particular problem, but then he tells a great number of stories 
and traditions and he reports scattered remarks by Persian sages such as 
Buzurjmihr— and the Mobedhan, and by Indian sages, as well as material 
transmitted on the authority of Daniel, Hermes, and other great men. He does not 
verify his statements or clarify them with the help of natural arguments. The work is 
merely a compilation of transmitted material similar to sermons in its inspirational 
purpose. In a way, at-Turtushi aimed at the right idea, but did not hit it. He did not 
realize his intention or exhaust his problems. 

We, on the other hand, were inspired by God. He led us to a science whose 
truth we ruthlessly set forth.— If I have succeeded in presenting the problems of 
(this science) exhaustively and in showing how it differs in its various aspects and 
characteristics from all other crafts, this is due to divine guidance. If, on the other 
hand, I have omitted some point, or if the problems of (this science) have got 
confused with something else, the task of correcting remains for the discerning critic, 
but the merit is mine since I cleared and marked the way. 

God guides with His light whomever He wants (to guide).— 

In — this book, now, we are going to explain such various aspects of 
civilization that affect human beings in their social organization, as royal authority, 
gainful occupation, sciences, and crafts, (all) in the light of various arguments that 
will show the true nature of the varied knowledge of the elite and the common 
people, repel misgivings, and remove doubts. We say that man is distinguished from 
the other living beings by certain qualities peculiar to him, namely: (1) The sciences 
and crafts which result from that ability to think which distinguishes man from the 

other animals and exalts him as a thinking being over all creatures.— (2) The need 
for restraining influence and strong authority, since man, alone of all the animals, 
cannot exist without them. It is true, something has been said (in this connection 
about bees and locusts. However, if they have something similar, it comes to them 

through inspiration,^ no t through thinking or reflection. (3) Man's efforts to make a 
living and his concern with the various ways of obtaining and acquiring the means 
of (life). This is the result of man's need for food to keep alive and subsist, which 
God instilled in him, guiding him to desire and seek a livelihood. God said: "He 

gave every thing its natural characteristics, and then guided it." — (4) Civilization. 
This means that human beings have to dwell in common and settle together in cities 
and hamlets for the comforts of companionship and for the satisfaction of human 
needs, as a result of the natural disposition of human beings toward co-operation in 
order to be able to make a living, as we shall explain. Civilization may be either 
desert (Bedouin) civilization as found in outlying regions and mountains, in hamlets 


(near suitable) pastures in waste regions, and on the fringes of sandy deserts. Or it 
may be sedentary civilization as found in cities, villages, towns, and small 
communities that serve the purpose of protection and fortification by means of walls. 
In all these different conditions, there are things that affect civilization essentially in 
as far as it is social organization. 

Consequently,— the discussion in this work falls naturally under six chapter 
headings: 

(1) On human civilization in general, its various kinds, and the portion of the 
earth that is civilized. 

(2) On desert civilization, including a report on the tribes and savage nations. 

(3) On dynasties, the caliphate, and royal authority, including a discussion of 
government ranks. 

(4) On sedentary civilization, countries, and cities. 

(5) On crafts, ways of making a living, gainful occupations, and their various 
aspects. And 

(6) On the sciences, their acquisition and study. 

I have discussed desert civilization first, because it is prior to everything 
else, as will become clear later on. (The discussion of) royal authority was placed 
before that of countries and cities for the same reason. (The discussion of) ways of 
making a living was placed before that of the sciences, because making a living is 
necessary and natural, whereas the study of science is a luxury or convenience.— 
Anything natural has precedence over luxury. I lumped the crafts together with 
gainful occupations, because they belong to the latter in some respects as far as 
civilization is concerned, as will become clear later. 

God gives success and support. 


Table of Contents 


Introductory material 

Introductory material of Book One. Kitab al 'Ibar 

Preliminary Remarks 


Chapter I Human civilization in general 

FIRST PREFATORY DISCUSSION 

SECOND PREFATORY DISCUSSION : The parts of the earth where civilization 
is found. Some information about oceans, rivers, and zones 

THIRD PREFATORY DISCUSSION : The temperate and the intemperate zones. 
The influence of the air upon the color of human beings and upon many other 
aspects of their condition 

FOURTH PREFATORY DISCUSSION : The influence of the air (climate) upon 
human character 

FIFTH PREFATORY DISCUSSION : Differences with regard toabundance and 
scarcity of food in the various inhabited regions (’umran) and how they affect 
the human body and character 

SIXTH PREFATORY DISCUSSION : The various types of human beings who 
have supernatural perception either through natural disposition or through 
exercise, preceded by a discussion of inspiration and dream visions 

Chapter II Bedouin rivilizatinn. savage nations and tribes and their conditions 
of life, including several basic and explanatory statements 


Chapter III On dynasties, royal authority, the caliphate, government ranks, and 
all that goes with these things. The chapter contains basic and 

supplementary propositions 

Chapter IV Countries and cities, and all other forms of sedentary civilization. 
The conditions occurring there. Primary and secondary 

considerations in this connection 


Chapter V On the various aspects of making a living, such as profit and the 
crafts. The conditions that occur in this connection. A number of 

problems are connected with this subject 

Chapter VI The various kinds of sciences. The methods of instruction. The 

conditions that obtain in these connections. The chapter includes a 

prefatory discussion and appendices 


Concluding Remarks 

Selected Bibliography. Walter J. Fischel 


Table of Contents 


Introductory material 

Introductory material of Book One. Kitab al 'Ibar 

Preliminary Remarks 

Chapter I Human civilization in general 

Chapter II Bedouin civilization, savage nations and tribes and their conditions 
of life, including several basic and explanatory statements 

1 Both Bedouins and sedentary people are natural groups 

2 The Arabs are a natural group in the world 

3 Bedouins are prior to sedentary people. The desert is the basis and reservoir 

of civilization and cities 

4 Bedouins are closer to being good than sedentary people 

5 Bedouins are more disposed to courage than sedentary people 

6 The reliance of sedentary people upon laws destroys their fortitude and 

power of resist 

7 Only tribes held together bv group feeling can live in the desert 

8 Group feeling result's only Porn blood relationship or something 

corresponding to it 

9 Purity of lineage is found only among the savage Arabs of the desert and 

other such people 

10 How lineages become confused 

11 Leadership over people who share in a given group feeling can not be vested 

in those not of the same descent 

12 Only those who share in the group feeling of a group can have a "house" and 

nobility in the basic sense and in reality, while others have it only in a 

metaphorical and figurative sense 

13 "House" and nobility come to clients and followers only through their 

masters and not through their own descent 

14 Prestige lasts at best four generations in one lineage 

15 Savage nations are better able to achieve superiority than others 

16 The goal to which group feeling leads is roval authority 

17 Obstacles on the wav toward roval authority are luxury and the submergence 

of the tribe in a life of prosperity 

18 Meekness and docility to outsiders that may come to be found in a tribe are 

obstacles on the wav toward roval authority 

19 A sign of the qualification of an individual for roval authority is his eager 

desire to acquire praiseworthy qualities, and vice versa 

20 While a nation is savage, its roval authority extends farther 

21 As long as a nation retains its group feeling, roval authority that disappears 


in one branch will, of necessity, pass to some other branch of the same 

nation 


22 The vanquished always want to imitate the victor in his distinctive marktst. 

his dress, his occupation, and all his other conditions and customs 

23 A nation that has been defeated and come under the rule of another nation 

will quickly perish 

24 Arabs can gain control only over fat territory 

25 Places that succumb to the Arabs are quickly ruined 

26 Arabs can obtain roval authority only bv making use of some religious 

coloring, such as prophecy, or sainthood, or some great religious event in 

general 

27 The Arabs are of all nations the one most remote from roval leadership 

28 Desert tribes and groups are dominated bv the urban population 


Chapter III On dynasties, royal authority, the caliphate, government ranks, and 
all that goes with these things. The chapter contains basic and 

supplementary propositions 

Chapter IV Countries and cities, and all other forms of sedentary civilization. 
The conditions occurring there. Primary and secondary 

considerations in this connection 


Chapter V On the various aspects of making a living, such as profit and the 
crafts. The conditions that occur in this connection. A number of 

problems are connected with this subject 

Chapter VI The various kinds of sciences. The methods of instruction. The 

conditions that obtain in these connections. The chapter includes a 

prefatory discussion and appendices 


Concluding Remarks 

Selected Bibliography. Walter J. Fischel 


Table of Contents 


Introductory material 

Introductory material of Book One. Kitab al 'Ibar 

Preliminary Remarks 


Chapter I Human civilization in general 

Chapter II Bedouin civilization, savage nations and tribes and their conditions 
of life, including several basic and explanatory statements 


Chapter III On dynasties, royal authority, the caliphate, government ranks, and 
all that goes with these things. The chapter contains basic and 
supplementary propositions 

1 Roval authority and large dynastic power are attained only through a group 

and group feeling 

2 When a dvnastv is firmly established, it can dispense with group feeling 

3 Members of a roval family may be able to found a dvnastv that can dispense 

with group feeling 

4 Dynasties of wide power and large roval authority have their origin in 

religion based either on prophecy or on truthful propaganda 

5 Religious propaganda gives a dvnastv at its beginning another power in 

addition to that of the group feeling it possessed as the result of the number 

of its supporters 

6 Religious propaganda cannot materialize without group feeling 

7 Each dvnastv has a certain amount of provinces and lands, and no more 

8 The greatness of a dvnastv. the extent of its territory, and the length of its 

duration depend upon the numerical strength of its supporters 

9 A dvnastv rarely establishes itself firmly in lands with many different tribes 

and groups 

10 Bv its very nature, the roval authority claims all glory for itself and goes in 

for luxury and prefers tranquility and quiet 

11 When the natural tendencies of the roval authority to claim all glory for itself 

and to obtain luxury and tranquility have been firmly established, the 

dvnastv approaches senility 

12 Dynasties have a natural life span like individuals 

13 The transition of dynasties from desert life to sedentary culture 

14 Luxury will at first give additional strength to a dvnastv 

15 The stages of dynasties. How the desert attitude differs among the people in 

the different stages 

16 The monuments of a given dvnastv are proportionate to its original power 

17 The ruler seeks the help of clients and followers against the men of his own 

people and group feeling 


18 The situation of clients and followers in dynasties 

19 Seclusion of. and control over, the ruler Cbv others! may occur in dynasties 

20 Those who gain power over the ruler do not share with him in the special 

title that goes with roval authority 

21 The true character and different kinds of roval authority 

22 Exaggerated harshness is harmful to roval authority and in most cases causes 

its destruction 

23 The meaning of caliphate and imamate 

24 The differences of Muslim opinion concerning the laws and conditions 

governing the caliphate 

25 Shi'ah tenets concerning the question of the imamate 

26 The transformation of the caliphate into roval authority 

27 The meaning of the oath of allegiance 

28 The succession 

29 The functions of the religious institution of the caliphate 

30 The title of "Commander of the Faithful." which is characteristic of the 

caliph 

31 Remarks on the words "Pope" and "Patriarch" in the Christian religion and 

on the word " Kohen" used bv the Jews 

32 The ranks of roval and governmental authority and the titles that go with 

those ranks. The wazirate. The office of doorkeeper ('hijabahl. The ministry 

idiwanl of financial operations and taxation. The ministry idiwanl of official 

correspondence and writing. The police. The admiralty. 

33 The different importance of the ranks of "the sword" and "the pen" in the 

various dynasties 

34 The characteristic emblems of roval and government authority. The "outt" 

falahl. The throne fsarirl. The mint. The seal. The tiraz. Large tents and tent 

walls. The praver enclosure ('maggurahl and the praver during the Friday 

sermon. 

35 Wars and the methods of waging war practiced bv the various nations 

36 Taxation and the reason for low and high tax revenues 

37 In the later years of dynasties, customs duties are levied 

38 Commercial activity on the part of the ruler is harmful to his subjects and 

ruinous to the tax revenue 

39 The ruler and his entourage are wealthy only in the middle period of the 

dynasty 

40 Curtailment of the allowances given bv the ruler implies curtailment of the 

tax revenue 

41 Injustice brings about the ruin of civilization 

42 How it happens that access to the ruler becomes restricted in the dvnastv. 

Such restriction becomes important when the dvnastv grows senile 

43 The division of one dvnastv into two 

44 Once senility has come upon a dvnastv. it cannot be made to disappear 

45 How disintegration befalls dynasties 


46 The authority of the dvnastv at first expands to its limit and then is narrowed 

down in successive stages, until the dynasty dissolves and disappears 


47 How a new dvnastv originates 

48 A new dvnastv gains domination over the ruling dvnastv through 

perseverance, and not through sudden action 

49 There is an abundant civilization (large population - ) at the end of dynasties. 

and pestilences and famines frequently occur then 

50 Human civilization requires political leadership for its organization 

51 The Fatimid. The opinions of the people about him. The truth about the 

matter. Sufi opinions about the Mahdi. 

52 Forecasting the future of dynasties and nations, including a discussion of 

predictions (malabiml and an exposition of the subject called "divination" 

(')afr') 

Chapter IV Countries and cities, and all other forms of sedentary civilization. 
The conditions occurring there. Primary and secondary 

considerations in this connection 

Chapter V On the various aspects of making a living, such as profit and the 
crafts. The conditions that occur in this connection. A number of 

problems are connected with this subject 

Chapter VI The various kinds of sciences. The methods of instruction. The 

conditions that obtain in these connections. The chapter includes a 

prefatory discussion and appendices 


Concluding Remarks 

Selected Bibliography. Walter J. Fischel 


Table of Contents 


Introductory material 

Introductory material of Book One. Kitab al 'Ibar 

Preliminary Remarks 


Chapter I Human civilization in general 

Chapter II Bedouin civilization, savage nations and tribes and their conditions 
of life, including several basic and explanatory statements 

Chapter III On dynasties, royal authority, the caliphate, government ranks, and 
all that goes with these things. The chapter contains basic and 

supplementary propositions 

Chapter IV Countries and cities, and all other forms of sedentary civilization. 
The conditions occurring there. Primary and secondary 
considerations in this connection 

1 Dynasties are prior to towns and cities. Towns and cities are secondary 

products of roval authority 

2 Roval authority calls for urban settlement 

3 Only a strong roval authority is able to construct large cities and high 

monuments 

4 Very large monuments are not built bv one dvnastv alone 

5 Requirements for the planning of towns and the consequences of neglecting 

those requirements 

6 The mosques and venerated buildings of the world 

7 There are few cities and towns in Ifriqivah and the Maghrib 

8 The buildings and constructions in Islam are comparatively few considering 

Islam's power and as compared to the dynasties preceding Islam 

9 Buildings erected bv Arabs, with very few exceptions, quickly fall into ruins 

10 The beginnings of the ruin of cities 

11 With regard to the amount of prosperity and business activity in them, cities 

and towns differ in accordance with the different size of their civilization 

(population). 

12 Prices in towns 

13 Bedouins are unable to settle in a city with a large civilization (population! 

14 Differences with regard to prosperity and poverty are the same in countries 

as in cities 

15 The accumulation of estates and farms in cities. Their uses and yields 

16 Capitalists among the inhabitants of cities need rank and protection 

17 Sedentary culture in cities comes from the dynasties. It is firmly rooted 

when the dvnastv is continuous and firmly rooted 


18 Sedentary culture is the goal of civilization. It means the end of its life span 

and brings about its corruption 

19 Cities that are the seats of roval authority fall into ruins when the ruling 

dvnastv falls into ruins and crumbles 

20 Certain cities have crafts that others lack 

21 The existence of group feeling in cities and the superiority of some of the 

inhabitants over others 


22 The dialects of the urban population 

Chapter V On the various aspects of making a living, such as profit and the 
crafts. The conditions that occur in this connection. A number of 

problems are connected with this subject 

Chapter VI The various kinds of sciences. The methods of instruction. The 

conditions that obtain in these connections. The chapter includes a 

prefatory discussion and appendices 


Concluding Remarks 

Selected Bibliography. Walter J. Fischel 


Table of Contents 


Introductory material 

Introductory material of Book One. Kitab al 'Ibar 

Preliminary Remarks 

Chapter I Human civilization in general 

Chapter II Bedouin civilization, savage nations and tribes and their conditions 
of life, including several basic and explanatory statements 

Chapter III On dynasties, royal authority, the caliphate, government ranks, and 
all that goes with these things. The chapter contains basic and 

supplementary propositions 

Chapter IV Countries and cities, and all other forms of sedentary civilization. 
The conditions occurring there. Primary and secondary 

considerations in this connection 


Chapter V On the various aspects of making a living, such as profit and the 
crafts. The conditions that occur in this connection. A number of 
problems are connected with this subject 

1 The real meaning and explanation of sustenance and profit. Profit is the value 

realized from human labor 

2 The various wavs, means, and methods of making a living 

3 Being a servant is not a natural wav of making a living 

4 Trying to make money from buried and other treasures is not a natural wav of 

making a living 

5 Ranks are useful in securing property 

6 Happiness and profit are achieved mostly bv people who are obsequious and 

use flattery. Such character disposition is one of the reasons for happiness 

7 Persons who are in charge of offices dealing with religious matters, such as 

judge, mufti, teacher, praver leader, preacher, muezzin, and the like, are not 

as a rule very wealthy 

8 Agriculture is a wav of making a living for weak people and Bedouins in 

search of subsistence 

9 The meaning, methods, and different kinds of commerce 

10 The transportation of goods bv merchants 

11 Hoarding 

12 Continued low prices are harmful to merchants who have to trade at low 

prices 

13 The kind of people who should practice commerce, and those who should not 

14 The character qualities of merchants are inferior to those of leading 

personalities and remote from manliness 


15 The crafts require teachers 


16 The crafts are perfected only if there exists a large and perfect sedentary 

civilization 

17 The crafts are firmly rooted in a city only when sedentary culture is firmly 

rooted and of long duration 

18 Crafts can improve and increase only when many people demand them 

19 The crafts recede from cities that are close to ruin 

20 The Arabs, of all people, are least familiar with crafts 

21 The person who has gained the habit of a particular craft is rarely able 

afterwards to master another 

22 A brief enumeration of the basic crafts 

23 The craft of agriculture 

24 The craft of architecture 

25 The craft of carpentry 

26 The craft of weaving and tailoring 

27 The craft of midwifery 

28 The craft of medicine. The craft of medicine is needed in settled areas and 

cities but not in the desert 

29 Calligraphy, the art of writing, is one of the human crafts 

30 The craft of book production 

31 The craft of singing and music 

32 The crafts, especially writing and calculation, give intelligence to the person 

who practices them 

Chapter VI The various kinds of sciences. The methods of instruction. The 

conditions that obtain in these connections. The chapter includes a 

prefatory discussion and appendices 


Concluding Remarks 

Selected Bibliography. Walter J. Fischel 


Table of Contents 


Introductory material 

Introductory material of Book One. Kitab al 'Ibar 

Preliminary Remarks 


Chapter I Human civilization in general 

Chapter II Bedouin civilization, savage nations and tribes and their conditions 
of life, including several basic and explanatory statements 

Chapter III On dynasties, royal authority, the caliphate, government ranks, and 
all that goes with these things. The chapter contains basic and 

supplementary propositions 

Chapter IV Countries and cities, and all other forms of sedentary civilization. 
The conditions occurring there. Primary and secondary 

considerations in this connection 


Chapter V On the various aspects of making a living, such as profit and the 
crafts. The conditions that occur in this connection. A number of 

problems are connected with this subject 


Chapter VI The various kinds of sciences. The methods of instruction. The 

conditions that obtain in these connections. The chapter includes a 
prefatory discussion and appendices 

1 Man's ability to think 

2 The world of the things that come into being as the result of action. 

materializes through thinking 

3 The experimental intellect and how it comes into being 

4 The sciences fknowledgef of human beings and the sciences ('knowledgel of 

angels 

5 The sciences Iknowledeef of the prophets 

6 Man is essentially ignorant, and becomes learned through acquiring 

knowledge 

7 Scientific instruction is a craft 

8 The sciences are numerous only where civilization is large and sedentary 

culture highly developed 

9 The various sciences that exist in contemporary civilization 

10 The Our'anic sciences of Qur'an interpretation and Qur'an reading Qur'an 

interpretation 

11 The sciences concerned with Prophetic traditions 

12 Jurisprudence and its subdivision, inheritance laws B The science of 

inheritance laws 


13 The science of the principles of jurisprudence and its subdivisions, dialectics 

and controversial questions 

14 The science of speculative theology 

15 An exposition of ambiguity in the Quran and the Sunnah and of the resulting 

dogmatic schools among both the orthodox and the innovators 

16 The science of Sufism 

17 The science of dream interpretation 

18 The various kinds of intellectual sciences 

19 The sciences concerned with numbers. The craft of calculation. Algebra. 

Business arithmetic. Inheritance laws 

20 The geometrical sciences. Spherical, figures, conic sections, and mechanics. - 

Surveying. Optics. 

21 Astronomy. Astronomical tables 

22 The science of logic 

23 Physics 

24 The science of medicine 

25 The science of agriculture 

26 The science of metaphysics 

27 The sciences of sorcery and talismans. The evil eve 

28 The science of the secrets of letters. The Za'irajah. On learning hidden secrets 

from letter connections 

29 The science of alchemy 

30 A refutation of philosophy. The corruption of the students of philosophy 

31 A refutation of astrology. The weakness of its achievements. The harmfulness 

of its goal 

32 A denial of the effectiveness of alchemy. The impossibility of its existence. 

The harm that arises from practicing it 

33 The purposes that must be kept in mind in literary composition and that alone 

are to be considered valid 

34 The great number of scholarly works available is an obstacle on the path to 

attaining scholarship 

35 The great number of brief handbooks available on scholarly subjects is 

detrimental to the process of instruction 

36 The right attitude in scientific instruction and toward the method of giving 

such instruction 

37 Study of the auxiliary sciences should not be prolonged, and their problems 

should not be treated in detail 

38 The instruction of children and the different methods employed in the Muslim 

cities 

39 Severity to students does them harm 

40 A scholar's education is greatly improved bv traveling in quest of knowledge 

and meeting the authoritative teachers of his time 

41 Scholars are, of all people, those least familiar with the wavs of politics 

42 Most of the scholars in Islam have been non-Arabs fPersiansf 


43 A person whose first language was not Arabic finds it harder than the native 

speaker of Arabic to acquire the sciences 

44 The sciences concerned with the Arabic language 319 Grammar. 320. - The 

science of lexicography. 325. - The science of syntax and style and literary 

criticism. 332. - The science of literature. 

45 Language is a technical habit 

46 Contemporary Arabic is an independent language different from the 

languages of the Mudar and the Himvar 

47 The language of the sedentary and urban population is an independent 

language d fferent from the language of the Mudar 

48 Instruction in the Mudar language 

49 The habit of the Mudar language is different from Arabic philology and can 

dispense with it in the process of instruction 

50 The interpretation and real meaning of the word "taste" according to the 

technical terminology of literary critics. An explanation of why Arabicized 

non- Arabs as a rule do not have it 

51 The urban population is in general d fcient in obtaining the linguistic habit 

that results from instruction. The more remote urban people are from the 

Arabic language, the more difficult it is for them to obtain it 

52 The division of speech into poetry and prose 

53 The ability to write both good poetry and good prose is only very rarely 

found together in one person 

54 The craft of poetry and the wav of learning it 

55 Poetry and prose work with words, and not with ideas 

56 The linguistic habit is obtained bv much, memorizing. The good quality of 

the linguistic habit is the result of the good quality of the memorized material 

57 An explanation of the meaning of natural and contrived speech. How 

contrived speech may be either good or de cient 

58 People of rank are above cultivating poetry 

59 Contemporary Arab poetry. Bedouin and urban The Spanish muwashshabahs 

and zajals 


Concluding Remarks 


Selected Bibliography. Walter J. Fischel 


CONCLUDING REMARKS 


We almost strayed from our purpose. It is our intention (now) to stop with 
this First Book which is concerned with the nature of civilization and the accidents 
that go with it. We have dealt - as we think, adequately - with the problems 
connected with that. Perhaps some later (scholar), aided by the divine gifts of a 
sound mind and of solid scholarship, will penetldte into these problems in greater 
detail than we did here. A person who creates a new discipline does not have the 
task of enumerating (all) the (individual) problems connected with it. His task is to 
specify the subject of the discipline and its various branches and the discussions 
connected with it. His successors, then, may gradually add more problems, until the 
(discipline) is completely (presented). 

"God knows, and you do not know." 1261 

The author of the book - God forgive him! -says: I completed the 

composition and draft of this first part, before revision and correction, ^^in a 
period of five months ending in the middle of the year 779 [November, 1377]. 
Thereafter, I revised and corrected the book, and I added to it the history of the 
(various) nations, as I mentioned and proposed to do at the beginning of the work. 

Knowledge comes only from God, the strong, the wise. 


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SPULER, BERTOLD and FORRER, LUDWIG. Der vordere Orient in islamischer 
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SUYUTI, 'ABD AR-RAHMAN JALAL AD-DIN AS-. Kitab Husn almuhddarah fi 
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TIESENHAUSEN, VLADIMIR GUSTAVOVICH, BARON. "Recueil de materiaux 
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TOGAN, ZEKI VELIDI. "Ibn Khaldun et I'avenir de l'etat musulman" in Bilgi 
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TOGAN, ZEKI VELIDI. Tarihde Usui. Tarih arastirmalari, 1. Istanbul, 1950. Cf. pp. 
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ADDENDA (1966) 



ABBAS, AHMAD. "Vie et oeuvre d'Ibn Baklan" in Falasifat allslam fi-l-garb al- 
'arabl. Association Nibras al-fikr. Tetuan, 1961. 

ABBOTT, NABIA. Studies in Arabic Literary Papyri. 1. Historical Texts. Oriental 
Institute Publications, Lxxv. Chicago, 1957. Cf. pp. 5-31. ("Early Islamic 
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AFSHAR, IRAs. See Fehrest maqdldt-e Farsi. 

ALAM, MANZOR. "Ibn Khaldun's Concept of the Origin, Growth and Decay of 
Cities," Islamic Culture (Hyderabad), xxxiv (1960), 90-106. 

A'mdl Mahrajdn Ibn Khaldun (Proceedings of the Symposium on Ibn Khaldun, held 
in Cairo). Cairo, 1962. 

ANAWATI, GEORGE C. Abd el-Rahman ibn Khaldoun, un Montesquieu arabe," 
La Revue du Caire (Cairo), xxii (1959), 17591,803-19. 

ASHOR, MUHAMMAD AL-FAgIL B. "Ibn Khaldun," al-Fikr (Tunis), in (1958), 
no. 8, 702-7. 

AYALON, DAVID. Ibn Khaldun's View of the Mamelukes, in L. A. Mayer's 
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summary, p. 175. 

AYALON, DAVID. "The System of Payment in Mamlak Military Society," Journal 
of Economic and Social History of the Orient (Leiden), 1 (1957), 37-65, 257-96. 

AYALON, DAVID. "Studies on the Transfer of the Abbasid Caliphate from 
Baghdad to Cairo," Arabica (Leiden), vu (1960), 41-59. 

BADAWI/ABD AR-RAHMAN. Mu'allafdt Ibn Khaldun. Cairo, 1962. 

BATSIEVA, S. M. "Sotsial' nuie osnovui istoriko-philosophskogo ucheniia Ibn 
Khalduna" (The social bases of Ibn Khaldun's historical-philosophical doctrine) 
in Pamiati akademika Iqnatiia 1 Ulianovich Krachkovskoqo. Leningrad, 1958. 
Cf. pp. 192201 

BATSIEVA, S. M. "Istoriko-Philosophskoe uchenie Ibn Khalduna" (The historical- 
philosophical doctrine of Ibn Khaldun), Akademiia nauk SSSR, Sovetskoe 
vostokovedenie (Moscow), 1 (1958), 7586. English summary, p. 86. 

BATSIEVA, S. M. Istoriko-Philosophskiy traktat Ibn Khalduna "0 prirode 
obchshestvennoy zhizni lyudey" (Historical-philosophical treatise of Ibn 
Khaldun on the origin of the social life of the people). (Dissertation resume, 
Leningrad University.) Leningrad, 1958. 

BATSIEVA, S. M. Istoriko-Sotsiologicheskiy traktat Ibn Khalduna "Mukaddima . " 
Moscow, 1965. 

BIELAWSRU, JOSEF. "Ibn Ijaldun, Historyk, Filozof i Socjolog Arabski z XIV 
Wieku" (Ibn Khaldun, Arab historian, philosopher and sociologist of the 14th 
century), Przeglgd Orientalistyczny (Warsaw), (1957) no. 2, 127-46. 

BIELAWSRU, JOSEF. "Tworca socjologii w §wiecie Islamu . . . ," Kultura i 
Spoleczenstwo (Warsaw), 111 (1959), no. 2, 4-34. 

BOOSQUET, GEORGES-HENRI, tr. and ed. Les Textes economiques de la 
Mouqaddima (1375-1379). Paris [1961], 

BOOSQUET, GEORGES-HENRI. "Les Cagaliba chez Ibn Khaldun," Rivista degli 
Studi Orientali (Rome), XL (1965), pp. 139-141. 

BRUNSCHVIG, ROBERT and GRUNEBAUM, GUSTAVE EDMUND VON, eds. 
Classicism et declin culturel dans I'histoire de I'Islam. Paris, 1957. 



CAIRNS, GRACE E. Philosophies of History: Meeting of East and West in Cycle - 
Pattern Theories of History. New York, 1962. London, 1963. Cf. pp. 322-36 
(New York edn. ). 

CARD BAROJA, JULIO. Aben Jaldun-Antropologo Social" in Estudios 
Mogrebies. Instituto de Estudios Africanos. Madrid, 1957. Cf. pp. 11-58. 

CARD BAROJA, JULIO. "Las Instituciones Fundamentales de los Nomadas segun 
Aben Jaldun," op. cit. Cf. pp. 27-41. 

CHAMBLISS, ROLIN. Social Thought, from Hammurabi to Comte. New York, 
1954. Cf. pp. 283-312. . 

COHEN, GERSON D. "Ibn Khaldun-Rediscovered Arab Philosopher," Midstream 
(New York), v (1959), 77-90. 

COACOS, DAVID. "The Jews of Morocco under the Marinides," 

COACOS, DAVIDJew/s/i Quarterly Review (Philadelphia), LIV (1964), 271-87; LV 
(1964), 53-81, 137-50. 

DAGHIR, YOSUF AS'AD. See IBN KHALDON (1). 

DEMEERSEMAN, A. "Ce qu'Ibn Khaldoun pense d'al-Ghazzali," IBLA [Institut 
des belles lettres arabes] (Tunis), xxi (1958), 161-93. 

EZZAT, ABDULAZIZ. See e IZZAT,'ABD AL-'AZIZ. 

FAROKI, KEMAL A. Islamic Jurisprudence, Karachi, 1962. 

FASI, MUHAMMAD AL-. Ibn Khaldun" in Faldsifat al-Islam fl-lgarb al-'arabl. 
Association Nibras al-fikr. Tetuan, 1961. 

Fehrest magalat-e Farsi (Index Iranicus). Repertoire methodique des articles 
persans concernant les etudes iranologiques, publies daps les periodiques et 
publications collectives. Vol. I, 19101958. Ed. Iraj Afshar. Teheran, 1961. 

FiKr, al-. Special Ibn Khaldun issue on the occasion of the 555th anniversary of his 
death. (Tunis), vi (1961), no. 6. 

FINDIKOGLU, ZIYAEDDIN FAHRI. "LEcole ibn-Khaldounienne en Turquie" in 
Proceedings of the Twenty-second International Congress of Orientalists, 
Istanbul, 1951. Leiden, 1957. 2 vols. Cf. 11, 269-73. 

FISCHEL, WALTER JOSEPH. "Selected Bibliography of Ibn Khaldun" in Ibn 
Khaldun: The Muqaddimah, an Introduction to History. Tr. Franz Rosenthal. 
New York, 1958. 3 vols. Cf. Ill, 485512. 

FISCHEL, WALTER JOSEPH. "Ascensus Barcoch": A Latin Biography of the 
Mamluk Sultan Barquq of Egypt (d. 1399) by B. de Mignanelli in 1416," 
translated and annotated, Arabica (Leiden), vi (1959), 57-74,162-72. 

FISCHEL, WALTER JOSEPH. "Ibn Khaldun on Pre-Islamic Iran" in Proceedings 
of the 26th International Congress of Orientalists, New Delhi (to appear in 
1967). 

FISCHEL, WALTER JOSEPH. "Nasat Ibn Khaldun ft Misr al-Mamlikiya (1382- 
1406)," (in Arabic) in Dirasdt Islamiya, Anthology of writings by Americans on 
Islam. Ed. N. Ziyida. Beirut, 1960. Cf. pp. 177-212. 

FISCHEL, WALTER JOSEPH. "Ibn Khaldun's Use of Historical Sources," Studia 
Islamica (Paris), xiv (1961), 109-119. 

FISCHEL, WALTER JOSEPH. Preliminary report of the above, in Proceedings of 
the Twenty-Fifth International Congress of Orientalists, Moscow, 1960. 
Moscow, 1962-3. 5 vols. Cf. II, 71. 



FISCHEL, WALTER JOSEPH. "Ibn Khaldun and al-Mas'udi," in al-Mas'udi 
Millenary Commemoration Volume. Indian Society for the History of Science. 
Aligarh, 1961. Cf. pp. 51-9. 

FISCHEL, WALTER JOSEPH. Ibn Khaldun and Tamerlane: Their Historic 

Meeting in Damascus, A. D. 1401 (803 A. H.). See orig. bibl. Fischel (4). For 
Arabic translation, see JAW AD. 

FISCHEL, WALTER JOSEPH. Urdu translation of the above. Sind Academy. 
Lahore (to appear in 1967). 

.FISCHEL, WALTER JOSEPH Ibn Khaldun in Egypt (1382-1406). His public 
functions and his historical research: An essay in Islamic historiography. 
Berkeley, 1967. 

GIBB, HAMILTON ALEXANDER ROSSKEEN. Reprint of "The Islamic 

Background of Ibn Khaldun's Political Theory" in Studies on the Civilization of 
Islam. Eds. Stanford Jay Shaw and William R. Polk. Boston, London, 1962. Cf. 
pp. 166-75. Cf. also orig. bibl., Gibb (2). 

GONABADI, MUHAMMAD PARVIN. See PARVIN-E GONABAD. 
GRUNEBAUM, GUSTAVE EDMUND VON. See BRUNSCHVIG. 

GUERNIER, EUGENE LEONARD. La Berberie, Tlslam et la France; le destin de 
TAfrique du Nord. Paris, 1950.2 vols. Cf. 1, 226-31; 396-402. 

HADDAD, J. ALMANSUR. See KHOURY, J. and A. BIERRENBACH. 

HARAKAT, IBRAHIM. Ibn Khaldun's 'Kitab al-'Ibar' as a Historical Source," 
Afdq (Rabat), 1 (1963), 123-32. HODGSON, MARSHALL G. S„ ed. See 
NICHOLSON. 

HOOKHAM, HILDA. Tamburlaine the Conqueror. London, 1962. HOURANI, 
ALBERT HABIB. Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age, 17981939. New York, 
London, Toronto, 1962. 

HUSARI, ABU KHALDUN SATI' AL-. Dirasdt ’an Muqaddimat Ibn Khaldun 
[edition augmentee]. Cairo, Baghdad, 1961. 

IBN KHALDUN, WALL AD-DIN 'ABD AR-RAHMAN. Ta'rikh al-Allama Ibn 
Khaldun. Ed. YQsuf As'ad Dighir. Beirut, 1956-1960. 7 vols. 

IBN KHALDUN, WALL AD-DIN 'ABD AR-RAHMAN. Muqaddimat Ibn 

Khaldun. With notes and introduction by 'Ali 'Abd al-Wihid Waft Cairo, 1957- 
1962. 4 vols. 

IBN KHALDUN, WALL AD-DIN 'ABD AR-RAHMAN. Muqaddimah. For Hindi 
translation, see Rizvi. Persian, see PARVIN-E GONABAD. Portuguese, see 
KHOURY. Turkish, see UGAN. For other translations, see orig. bibl. IBN 
KHALDuN (4). 

IBN KHALDUN, WALL AD-DIN 'ABD AR-RAHMAN. For French translation of 
the economic texts, see BoUSQUET. 

IBN KHALDUN, WALL AD-DIN 'ABD AR-RAHMAN. Sifa'-us-sd'il litahzib-il- 
masd'il. (Apaisement a qui cherche comment clar jer les problemes.) Edition, 
introduction et vocabulaire technique par le pere Ignace Abdo Khalife, S. J. 
Institut de Lettres orientates de Beyrouth, xi. Beirut, 1959. 

IBN KHALDUN, WALL AD-DIN 'ABD AR-RAHMAN. SIfa'u's-sd'il litehzibi'l- 
mesd'il. Ed. Muhammed b. Tawit at-Tanji. Istanbul, 1958. Ankara Universitesi 
Ilahiyat Fakultesi Yaymlari, xxii. 

IBRASHI, MUHAMMAD 'ATI YAH AL- and TAWANISI, ABO AL FUTON 
MUHAMMAD AL-. Silsilat Tarajim. Cairo, 1957. Cf. u, 80-142. 



Index Iranicus. See Fehrest maqalat-e Farsi. 

Index Islamicus, 1906-1955. A catalogue of articles on Islamic subjects in 

periodicals and other collective publications. Ed. J. D. Pearson, with assistance 
of Julia F. Ashton. Cambridge, 1958. Cf. pp. 340-1. 

Index Islamicus, . Supplement, 1956-1960. Ed. J. D. Pearson. Cambridge, 1962. Cf. 
pp. 106-7. 

IRVING, T. B. "The World of Ibn Khaldun," The Islamic Literature (Lahore), lx 
(1957), 547-51, 473-77. 

IRVING, T. B. "Peter the Cruel and Ibn Khaldun," op. cit., xi (1959), 5-17. 

IRVING, T. B.. "A Fourteenth Century View of Language" in The World of Islam, 
Studies in Honour of Philip K. Hitti. Eds. J. Kritzeck and R. Bayly Winder. 
London, New York, 1959. Cf. pp. 18592. 

'ISSA, ALi AHMAD. The Arabic Society: Experimental Sociological Studies. Cairo, 
1961. Cf. pp. 179-91. 

IVANOV, N. A. "'Kitab al-'Ibar' Ibn Khalduna kak istochnik po istorii stran 

Severnoy Afriki ve XIV veke" (Ibn Khaldun's "Kitab al-'Ibar" as a Source for 
the History of the North African Lands in the 14th Century), Arabskii Sbornik 
(Moscow), xix (1959), 8-45. 

TZZAT, 'ABD AL-'AZIZ. The Philosophy of History and Sociology. Cairo, 1960. 

Cf. pp. 94-61. 

JAFFAR, S. M. History of History. Peshawar City, 1961. Cf. I, 44-47. 

JEAN -LEON L AFRICAIN. Description de lAfrique. Tr. (from Italian) and ed. A. 
Epaulard and others. Publication de l'Institut des Hautes Etudes Marocaines, 
LXI. Paris, 1956. 2 vols. 

KHALIFE, LE PERE IGNACE-ABDO, S. J. "Un nouveau traite mystique d'Ibn 
Jjaldun" in Akten des vierundzwanzigsten internationalen Orientalisten- 
Kongresses, Manchen, 1957. Wiesbaden, 1959. Cf. pp. 330-33. 

KHALIFE, LE PERE IGNACE-ABDO, S. J.. See also IBN KHALDUN (5). 

KHOURY, J. and A. BIERRENBACH, trs. b. Haldun. Os prolegomenos ou filos fla 
social. Introduction by J. Almansur Haddad. Sao Paulo, 1958-1960. (Portuguese 
translation of the Muqaddimah.) 

KOPILEWITZ, IMMANUEL. Aqdamot la-Historia (Hebrew translation of the 
Muqaddimah.) Translated, with notes and introduction, Bialik Institute, 
Jerusalem, 1967. 

KRITZECK, JAMES, ed. Anthology of Islamic Literature, from the rise of Islam to 
modern times. New York, 1964. Cf. pp. 274-84. 

LACOSTE, YVES. "La grande oeuvre d'Ibn Khaldoun," La Pensie (Paris), LXIX 
(1956), 10-33. 

LEVI DELLA VIDA, GIORGIO. Review of F. Rosenthal's translation of the 
Muqaddimah, Oriente Moderno (Rome), XXXVIII (1958), 1005-7. 

LEWIS, BERNARD. "The Muslim Discovery of Europe," Bulletin of the School of 
Oriental and African Studies (London), xx (1957), 409- 16. 

LEWIS, BERNARD and HOLT, P. M., eds. Historians of the Middle East. School 
of Oriental and African Studies, Historical writing on the peoples of Asia, IV. 
London, 1962. 

LIEBLING, A. J. "The Round of History" (review article), The New Yorker (New 



York), xxxv (1959), no. 38, 213-41. 

MACDONALD, J. "An Arab's Appreciation of Ibn Khaldun and Western Criticism 
of Islam," The Islamic Literature (Lahore), xi (1959), 187-95. 

MADELUNG, WILFRED VON. "Fatimiden and Bahraingarmaten," Der Islam 
(Berlin), xxxiv (1959), 34-88. 

Mahrajan Ibn Khaldun, Casablanca, 1962. Colloque organise par la Faculte des 
Lettres a Rabat (Universite Mohammad V). 

MAHDI, MUHSIN. "Ibn Khaldun" in Approaches to the Oriental Classics. Ed. 
William Theodore de Bary. New York, 1959. Cf. pp. 68-83. 

MAHDI, MUHSIN.. Ibn Khaldun's Philosophy of History. New York: Phoenix edn., 
1964. 

MAHDI, MUHSIN.. "Die Kritik der islamischen politischen Philosophic bei Ibn 
Khaldun," in Wissenschaftliche Politik: eine Einfuhrung in Grundfragen ihrer 
Tradition and Theorie, Freiburg im B., 1962. Cf. 117-51. 

MALLAH, MAHMOD AL-. Dagd'iq wa-hagd'iq fi Muqaddimat Ibn Khaldun. 
Baghdad, 1955. 

MALLAH, MAHMOD AL-.. Nazrah thdniyah fi Muqaddimat Ibn Khaldun. 
Baghdad, 1956. 

MANZOOR, 'ALAM. See ALAM, MANZOR. 

MIGNANELLI, B. DE. See FISCHEL (2). 

MULLER, HERBERT JOSEPH. The Loom of History. New York, 1958; London, 
1960. Cf. pp. 290 ff. (New York edn.). 

MUSA, MuNIR M. General Sociology. Damascus, 1959. Cf. vol. I, 27-36. 

NAD VI, MEVLANA MUHAMMAD HANIF SAHAB. Afkar-i Ibn Khaldun. 
Lahore, 1954. Urdu translation of the Muqaddimah. 

NASSAR, NASSIF. "Le Maitre d'Ibn KhaldUn: al-Abili" in Studia Islamica, Paris, 
xx (1965), 103-114. 

NICHOLSON, REYNOLDS ALLEYNE. Reprint of "Ibn Khaldun: the dynamics of 
history" in Introduction to Islamic Civilization. Course syllabus and selected 
reading by Marshall G. S. Hodgson. Chicago, 1958.3 vols. Cf. H, 490-501. 

NOR, MUHAMMAD 'ABD AL-MUN'IM. An Analytical Study of the Sociological 
Thought of Ibn Khaldun. Cairo, 1960. 

PARVIN-E GONABAD, MUHAMMAD, tr. Mogaddame ye Ebn-eKhaldun, ta'l f-e 
Abdo'r-Rahmdn Ebn-e-I(haldun. Teheran, 1957-1959. Persian translation of 
the Muqaddimah. 

PEARSON, J. D. See Index Islamicus and Supplement. 

PERES, HENRI. Le sikcle d'Ibn Khaldoun (VIII/XIV-). (Bibliotheque de l'lnstitut 
d'etudes superieures islamique d' Alger.) Algiers, 1960. 

PERLMAN, MOSHE. "Ibn Khaldun on Sufism," Bibliotheca Orientalis (Leiden), 
xvii (1960), 222-3. 

PRAKASH, BUDDHA. The Modern Approach to History. Delhi, 1963 (University 
Publications). 

QUIROS RODRIGUEZ, C. B. "Ibn Jaldun, politico e historiador," Archivos del 
Instituto de Estudios Africanos (Madrid), vi (1952), no. 24, 7-9. 

RALIBY, OSMAN. On the Political and Social Ideas of Ibn Khaldun. Djakarta, 
1962. (Indonesian texts.) 



RICHTER, GUSTAV. "Medieval Arabic Historiography" (tr. and ed. M. Saber 
Khan), Islamic Culture (Hyderabad), xxxiii (1959), 148-51; xxxiv (1960), 139- 
151. Cf. orig. bibl., RICHTER. 

RIOWAN, IBRAHIM. Muqaddimah. Selections. Ed. Ahmad Zagi. Cairo, 1960. 

RIZVI, ATHAR AHBES. Ibn? Khaladuna ka Mukadama. Lucknow, 1961. Hindi 
translation of the Muqaddimah. 

ROSENTHAL, ERWIN ISAK JAKOB. Political Thought in Medieval Islam: an 
introductory outline. Cambridge, 1962. Cf. pp. 84-109, 260-8. 

ROSENTHAL, FRANZ, tr. Ibn Khaldun, An Introduction to History: The 
Muqaddimah, ed. and abridged by N. J. Dawood. London, 1967. 

SALIBI, KAMAL S. "Listes chronologiques des grands Cadis de l'Egypte sous les 
Mamelouks," Revue des Etudes Islamiques (Paris), xxv (1957), 81-125. 

SALIBI, RUSHDI A. Rajul fi-t-Qdhirah (A Man in Cairo). A fictionalized 
biography of Ibn Khaldun in Cairo. Kutub li'l-Jami'a, cxv. Cairo, 1957. 

SAMIHI, 'ABD AL- KARIM. "Ibn Khaldun and His 'Ta'rif,' " Revue al-Anwdr 
(Tetuan), (1951), no. 26, 12-13, 19-20. 

SAUNDERS, J. J. "The Problem of Islamic Decadence," Cahiers d'Histoire 
mondiale (Paris), vii (1963), 701-20. 

SHARIF, M. M., ed. A History of Muslim Philosophy, with short accounts of other 
disciplines and the modern Renaissance in Muslim lands. 2 vols. Vol. I, 
Wiesbaden, 1963. Vol. II (in print). Cf. chs. XL VI, XLIX. 

SHERWANI, HAROON KHAN. "Ibn Khaldun-A Life Sketch," Indian Journal of 
the History of Medicine (Madras), iv (19. 59), 9-12. 

SHIBER, SABA G. "Ibn Khaldun-an early town planner," Middle East Forum 
(Beirut), xxx (1962), 35-39. 

SIKIRIC, SACIR. Ibn Haldunova Prolegomena (Les'Prolegomenes' d'Ibn Haldun)," 
Prilozi za Orientalnu filologiju i istoriju Jugoslovenskih naroda pod Turskom 
Vladavinom (Revue de Philologie orientale et d'Histoire des Peuples 
yougoslaves sous la Domination turque) (Sarajevo), v (1954-1955), 23350. 
French summary, p. 250. 

SIMON, HEINRICH. Ibn Khalduns Wissenschaft von der menschlichen Kultur. 
Beitrage zur Orientalistik, 11. Leipzig, 1959. 

SOMOGY1, JOSEPH DE. The Development of Arabic Historiography," Journal of 
Semitic Studies (Manchester), in (1958), 373-87. 

SPULER, BERTOLD. "Ibn Khaldoun, the Historian" in A'mal Mahrajan Ibn 
Khaldun. Cairo, 1962. Cf. pp. 349-56. 

SUBBA REDDY, D. V. "Sociology of Medicine in the Muqaddimah of Ibn 

Khaldun," Indian Journal of the History of Medicine (Madras), iv (1959), 13-23; 
v (1960), 10-21. 

TANJA, MUHAMMAD IBN TAWIT AT-. "Prolegomenes d'Ibn Khaldoun" in 
Proceedings of the Twenty-second International Congress of Orientalists, 
Istanbul, 1951. Leiden, 1957. 2 vols. Cf. ii, 262-3. 

TANJA, MUHAMMAD IBN TAWIT AT-. See also IBN KHALDON (6). 

TEKINDAG, M. C. SEHABEDDIN. Berkuk devrinde Memluk Sultanllgi. Istanbul 
Universitesi Ebebiyat Fakiiltesi Yayinlarindan Mo. DCCCLXXXVII. Istanbul, 
1961. 

UGAN, ZAKIR KADIRI, tr. Ibni Haldun Mukaddime. Istanbul, 19541957.3 vols. 



Turkish translation of the Mugaddimah. 

ULKEN, HILMI ZIYA. "Ibn Khaldoun, Initiateur de la sociologie" in A'mdl 
Mahrajdn Ibn Khaldun. Cairo, 1962. Cf. pp. 29-40. 

WAFT, 'ALI ' T ABD AL-WAIIID. 'Abd ar-Rahmdn Ibn Khaldun, haydtuhu, 
dtdruhu wa-maxdhir 'abgariyyatihi. Cairo, 1962. 

WALZER, RICHARD. Aspects of Islamic Political Thought: alFirabi and Ibn 
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WARDI, 'ALI AL-. Mantiq Ibn Khaldun fi daw'haddratihi wasaf siyyatihi; 
muqaddima li-dirdsdt al-mantiq al-ijtima'i. Cairo, 1962. 

WHITE, HAYDEN V. Review of F. Rosenthal's translation of the Muqaddimah, 
"Ibn Khaldun in World Philosophy of History," Comparative Studies in Society 
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WIET, GASTON. Grandeur de I'Islam: de Mahomet a Franfois I-. Paris, 1961. Cf. 
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WIET, GASTON.. Cairo, City of Art and Commerce. Tr. Seymour Feiler. The 
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WOLFSON, HARRY A. "Ibn Khaldun on Attributes and Predestination," Speculum 
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Table of Contents 


Introductory material 

translator's introduction 

Ibn Khaldun's Life 

The Muqaddimah 

The Textual History of the Muqaddimah (i I Manuscripts , (ii) Editions. (Hi) Gradual Growth of 
the Text, (tv) Previous Translations, tvl Present Translation . 

Introductory material of Book One. Kitab al 'Ibar 

Preliminary Remarks 


Chapter I Human civilization in general 

Chapter II Bedouin civilization, savage nations and tribes and their conditions 
of life, including several basic and explanatory statements 


Chapter III On dynasties, royal authority, the caliphate, government ranks. 

and all that goes with these things. The chapter contains basic 

and supplementary propositions 

Chapter IV Countries and cities, and all other forms of sedentary civilization. 
The conditions occurring there. Primary and secondary 

considerations in this connection 


Chapter V On the various aspects of making a living, such as profit and the 
crafts. The conditions that occur in this connection. A number of 

problems are connected with this subject 

Chapter VI The various kinds of sciences. The methods of instruction. The 

conditions that obtain in these connections. The chapter includes a 

prefatory discussion and appendices 


Concluding Remarks 

Selected Bibliography. Walter J. Fischel 


INVOCATION 


IN THE NAME OF GOD; THE MERCIFUL, THE COMPASSIONATE. PRAY, O 
GOD, FOR OUR LORD MUHAMMAD AND HIS FAMILY AND THE MEN 

AROUND HIM. 


THE SERVANT of God who needs the mercy of God who is so rich in His 
kindness, 'Abd-ar-Rahman b. Muhammad b. Khaldun al-Hadrami-God give him 
success! -says:- Praised be God! He is powerful and mighty. In His hand, He holds 

royal authority and kingship.- His are the most beautiful names and attributes. His 
knowledge is such that nothing, be it revealed in secret whispering or (even) left 
unsaid, remains strange to Him. His power is such that nothing in heaven and upon 
earth is too much for Him or escapes Him. 

He created us from the earth as living, breathing creatures. He made us to 

settle- on it as races and nations. From it, He provided sustenance and provisions for 
us. 

The wombs of our mothers and houses are our abode. Sustenance and food 
keep us alive. Time wears us out. Our lives' final terms, the dates of which have 
been fixed for us in the book (of destiny), claim us. But He lasts and persists. He is 
the Living One who does not die. 

Prayer and blessings upon our Lord and Master, Muhammad, the Arab- 

prophet, whom Torah and Gospel have mentioned and described;— him for whose 
birth the world that is was (already) in labor before Sundays were following upon 
Saturdays in regular sequence and before Saturn and Behemoth had become 

separated;- him to whose truthfulness pigeon and spider bore witness.- 

(Prayer and blessings) also upon his family and the men around him who by 

being his companions- and followers gained wide influence and fame and who by 
supporting him found unity while their enemies were weakened through dispersion. 
Pray, O God, for him and them, for as long as Islam shall continue to enjoy its lucky 
fortune and the frayed rope of unbelief shall remain cut! Give manifold blessings (to 
him and them)! 


FOREWORD 


HISTORY is a discipline widely cultivated among nations and races. It is 
eagerly sought after. The men in the street, the ordinary people, aspire to know it. 
Kings and leaders vie for it. 

Both the learned and the ignorant are able to understand it. For on the 
surface history is no more than information about political events, dynasties, and 
occurrences of the remote past, elegantly presented and spiced with proverbs. It 
serves to entertain large, crowded gatherings and brings to us an understanding of 
human affairs. (It shows) how changing conditions affected (human affairs), how 
certain dynasties came to occupy an ever wider space in the world, and how they 
settled the earth until they heard the call and their time was up. 

The inner meaning of history, on the other hand, involves speculation and an 
attempt to get at the truth, subtle explanation of the causes and origins of existing 
things, and deep knowledge of the how and why of events. (History,) therefore, is 
firmly rooted in philosophy. It deserves to be accounted a branch of (philosophy). - 

The outstanding Muslim historians made exhaustive collections of historical 
events and wrote them down in book form. But, then, persons who had no right to 
occupy themselves with history introduced into those books untrue gossip which 
they had thought up or freely invented, as well as false, discredited reports which 
they had made up or embellished. Many of their successors followed in their steps 
and passed that information on to us as they had heard it. They did not look for, or 
pay any attention to, the causes of events and conditions, nor did they eliminate or 
reject nonsensical stories. 

Little effort is being made to get at the truth. The critical eye, as a rule, is not 
sharp. Errors and unfounded assumptions are closely allied and familiar elements in 
historical information. Blind trust in tradition is an inherited trait in human beings. 
Occupation with the (scholarly) disciplines on the part of those who have no right is 
widespread. But the pasture of stupidity is unwholesome for mankind. No one can 
stand up against the authority of truth, and the evil of falsehood is to be fought with 
enlightening speculation. The reporter merely dictates and passes on (the material). It 
takes critical insight to sort out the hidden truth; it takes knowledge to lay truth bare 
and polish it so that critical insight may be applied to it. 

Many systematic historical works have been composed, and the history of 
nations and dynasties in the world has been compiled and written down. But there 
are very few (historians) who have become so well known as to be recognized as 
authorities, and who have replaced the products of their predecessors by their own 
works. They can almost be counted on the fingers of the hands; they are hardly more 
numerous than the vowels in grammatical constructions (which are just three). There 

are, for instance, Ibn Ishaq; IQ at-Tabari;— Ibn al-Kalbi;QQ Muhammad b. 'Umar al- 
Wagidi;lQ Sayf b. 'Umar al-Asadi;!^ al-Mas'udi,lQ and other famous (historians) 
who are distinguished from the general run (of historians) . 

It is well known to competent persons and reliable experts that the works of 

al-Masudi and al-Waqidi are suspect and objectionable in certain respects.— 
However, their works have been distinguished by universal acceptance of the 
information they contain and by adoption of their methods and their presentation of 
material. The discerning critic is his own judge as to which part of their material he 
finds spurious, and which he gives credence to. Civilization, in its (different) 


conditions, contains (different) elements to which historical information may be 
related and with which reports and historical materials may be checked. 

Most of the histories by these (authors) cover everything because of the 

universal geographical extension of the two earliest Islamic dynasties — and 
because of the very wide selection of sources of which they did or did not make use. 
Some of these authors, such as al-Mas'idi and historians of his type, gave an 
exhaustive history of the pre- Islamic dynasties and nations and of other (pre- 
Islamic) affairs in general. Some later historians, on the other hand, showed a 
tendency toward greater restriction, hesitating to be so general and comprehensive. 
They brought together the happenings of their own period and gave exhaustive 
historical information about their own part of the world. They restricted themselves 
to the history of their own dynasties and cities. This was done by Ibn Hayyan, the 

historian of Spain and the Spanish Umayyads,lS and by Ibn ar-Raqiq, the historian 
of Ifrigiyah and the dynasty in Kairouan (al-Qayrawan).— 

The later historians were all tradition-bound and dull of nature and 

intelligence, or, (at any rate) did not try not to be dull. They merely copied — the 
(older historians) and followed their example. They disregarded the changes in 
conditions and in the customs of nations and races that the passing of time had 
brought about. Thus, they presented historical information about dynasties and 
stories of events from the early period as mere forms without substance, blades 
without scabbards, as knowledge that must be considered ignorance, because it is 
not known what of it is extraneous and what is genuine. (Their information) 
concerns happenings the origins of which are not known. It concerns species the 
genera of which are not taken into consideration, and whose (specific) differences 

are not verified.— With the information they set down they merely repeated 
historical material which is, in any case, widely known, and followed the earlier 
historians who worked on it. They neglected the importance of change over the 
generations in their treatment of the (historical material), because they had no one 
who could interpret it for them. Their works, therefore, give no explanation for it. 
When they then turn to the description of a particular dynasty, they report the 
historical information about it (mechanically) and take care to preserve it as it had 
been passed on down to them, be it imaginary or true. They do not turn to the 
beginning of the dynasty. Nor do they tell why it unfurled its banner and was able to 
give prominence to its emblem, or what caused it to come to a stop when it had 
reached its term. The student, thus, has still to search for the beginnings of 
conditions and for (the principles of) organization of (the various dynasties). He 
must (himself) investigate why the various dynasties brought pressures to bear upon 
each other and why they succeeded each other. He must search for a convincing 
explanation of the elements that made for mutual separation or contact among the 
dynasties. All this will be dealt with in the Introduction to this work. 

Other historians, then, came with too brief a presentation (of history). They 
went to the extreme of being satisfied with the names of kings, without any 
genealogical or historical information, and with only a numerical indication of the 

length of reigns. 2 ^ This was done by Ibn Rashiq in the Mizan al-'amal,— and by 
those lost sheep who followed his method. No credence can be given to what they 
say. They are not considered trustworthy, nor is their material considered worthy of 
transmission, for they caused useful material to be lost and damaged the methods 
and customs acknowledged (as sound and practical) by historians. 

When I had read the works of others and probed into the recesses of 
yesterday and today, I shook myself out of that drowsy complacency and sleepiness. 

Although not much of a writer, — I exhibited my own literary ability as well as I 


could, and, thus, composed a book on history. In (this book) I lifted the veil from 
conditions as they arise in the various generations. I arranged it in an orderly way in 
chapters dealing with historical facts and reflections. In it I showed how and why 
dynasties and civilization originate. I based the work on the history of the two races 
that constitute the population of the Maghrib at this time and people its various 
regions and cities, and on that of their ruling houses, both long- and short-lived, 
including the rulers and allies they had in the past. These two races are the Arabs 
and the Berbers. They are the two races known to have resided in the Maghrib for 
such a long time that one can hardly imagine they ever lived elsewhere, for its 
inhabitants know no other human races. 

I corrected the contents of the work carefully and presented it to the 
judgment of scholars and the elite. I followed an unusual method of arrangement 
and division into chapters. From the various possibilities, I chose a remarkable and 
original method. In the work, I commented on civilization, on urbanization, and on 
the essential characteristics of human social organization, in a way that explains to 
the reader how and why things are as they are, and shows him how the men who 
constituted a dynasty first came upon the historical scene. As a result, he will wash 
his hands of any blind trust in tradition. He will become aware of the conditions of 
periods and races that were before his time and that will be after it. 

I divided the work into an introduction and three books: 


The Introduction deals with the great merit of historiography, (offers) an 
appreciation of its various methods, and cites errors of the historians. 

The First Book deals with civilization and its essential characteristics, 
namely, royal authority, government, gainful occupations, ways of making a 
living, crafts, and sciences, as well as with the causes and reasons thereof. 

The Second Book deals with the history, races, and dynasties of the 
Arabs, from the beginning of creation down to this time. This will include 
references to such famous nations and dynasties - contemporaneous with 

them,— as the Nabataeans,— the Syrians, the Persians, the Israelites, the 
Copts, the Greeks, the Byzantines, and the Turks. 

The Third Book deals with the history of the Berbers and of the Zanatah 
who are part of them; with their origins and races; and, in particular, with the 
royal authority and dynasties in the Maghrib. 


Later on, there was my trip to the East, in order to find out about the 
manifold illumination it offers and to fulfill the religious duty and custom of 
circumambulating the Ka'bah and visiting Medina, as well as to study the systematic 
works and tomes on (Eastern) history. As a result, I was able to fill the gaps in my 
historical information about the non- Arab (Persian) rulers of those lands, and about 
the Turkish dynasties in the regions over which they ruled. I added this information 
to what I had written here (before in this connection). I inserted it into the treatment 
of the nations of the various districts and rulers of the various cities and regions that 
were contemporary with those (Persian and Turkish) races. In this connection I was 
brief and concise and preferred the easy goal to the difficult one. I proceeded from 
general genealogical (tables)— to detailed historical information. 

Thus, (this work) contains an exhaustive history of the world. It forces 
stubborn stray wisdom to return to the fold. It gives causes and reasons for 
happenings in the various dynasties. It turns out to be a vessel for philosophy, a 
receptacle for historical knowledge. The work contains the history of the Arabs and 


the Berbers, both the sedentary groups and the nomads. It also contains references to 
the great dynasties that were contemporary with them, and, moreover, clearly 
indicates memorable lessons to be learned from early conditions and from 
subsequent history. Therefore, I called the work "Book of Lessons and Archive of 
Early and Subsequent History, Dealing with the Political Events Concerning the 
Arabs, Non- Arabs, and Berbers, and the Supreme Rulers Who Were Contemporary 

with Them." ^8 

I omitted nothing concerning the origin of races and dynasties, concerning 
the synchronism of the earliest nations, concerning the reasons for change and 
variation in past periods and within religious groups, concerning dynasties and 
religious groups, towns and hamlets, strength and humiliation, large numbers and 
small numbers, sciences and crafts, gains and losses, changing general conditions, 
nomadic and sedentary life, actual events and future events, all things expected to 
occur in civilization. I treated everything comprehensively and exhaustively and 
explained the arguments for and causes of it(s existence). 

As a result, this book has become unique, as it contains unusual knowledge 
and familiar if hidden wisdom. Still, after all has been said, I am conscious of 
imperfection when (I look at) the scholars of (past and contemporary) times.— I 
confess my inability to penetrate so difficult a subject. I wish that men of scholarly 
competence and wide knowledge would look at the book with a critical, rather than 
a complacent eye, and silently correct and overlook the mistakes they come upon. 
The capital of knowledge that an individual scholar has to offer is small. Admission 
(of one's shortcomings) saves from censure. Kindness from colleagues is hoped for. 
It is God whom I ask to make our deeds acceptable in His sight. He suffices me. He 

is a good protector.^ 


INTRODUCTION 


The excellence of historiography. -An appreciation of 
the various approaches to history. -A glimpse at the 
different kinds of errors to which historians are liable. 
Something about why these errors occur.— 


IT SHOULD BE KNOWN that history is a discipline that has a great 
number of (different) approaches. Its useful aspects are very many. Its goal is 
distinguished. 

(History) makes us acquainted with the conditions of past nations as they are 
reflected in their (national) character. It makes us acquainted with the biographies of 
the prophets and with the dynasties and policies of rulers. Whoever so desires may 
thus achieve the useful result of being able to imitate historical examples in religious 
and worldly matters. 

The (writing — of history) requires numerous sources and greatly varied 
knowledge. It also requires a good speculative mind and thoroughness. (Possession 
of these two qualities) leads the historian to the truth and keeps him from slips and 
errors. If he trusts historical information in its plain transmitted form and has no 
clear knowledge of the principles resulting from custom, the fundamental facts of 
politics, the nature of civilization, or the conditions governing human social 
organization, and if, furthermore, he does not evaluate remote or ancient material 
through comparison with near or contemporary material, he often cannot avoid 
stumbling and slipping and deviating from the highroad of truth. Historians, Qur'an 
commentators and leading transmitters have committed frequent errors in the stories 
and events they reported. They accepted them in the plain transmitted form, without 
regard for its value. They did not check them with the principles underlying such 
historical situations, nor did they compare them with similar material. Also, they did 
not probe (more deeply) with the yardstick of philosophy, with the help of 
knowledge of the nature of things, or with the help of speculation and historical 
insight. Therefore, they strayed from the truth and found themselves lost in the 
desert of baseless assumptions and errors. 

This is especially the case with figures, either of sums of money or of 
soldiers, whenever they occur in stories. They offer a good opportunity for false 
information and constitute a vehicle for nonsensical statements. They must be 
controlled and checked with the help of known fundamental facts. 

For example, al-Mas'udi and many other historians report that Moses 

counted the army of the Israelites in the desert. — He had all those able to carry 
arms, especially those twenty years and older, pass muster. There turned out to be 
600,000 or more. In this connection, (al-Mas'udi) forgets to take into consideration 
whether Egypt and Syria could possibly have held such a number of soldiers. Every 
realm may have as large a militia as it can hold and support, but no more. This fact 
is attested by well-known customs and familiar conditions. Moreover, an army of 
this size cannot march or fight as a unit. The whole available territory would be too 
small for it. If it were in battle formation, it would extend two, three, or more times 
beyond the field of vision. How, then, could two such parties fight with each other, 
or one battle formation gain the upper hand when one flank does not know what the 


other flank is doing! The situation at the present day testifies to the correctness of 
this statement. The past resembles the future more than one (drop of) water another. 

Furthermore, the realm of the Persians was much greater than that of the 
Israelites. This fact is attested by Nebuchadnezzar's victory over them. He swallowed 
up their country and gained complete control over it. He also destroyed Jerusalem, 
their religious and political capital. And he was merely one of the officials of the 

province of Fars.— It is said that he was the governor of the western border region. 
The Persian provinces of the two 'Iraqs,— Khurasan, Transoxania, and the region of 

Derbend on the Caspian Sea— were much larger than the realm of the Israelites. 

Yet, the Persian army did not attain such a number or even approach it. The greatest 
concentration of Persian troops, at alQadisiyah, amounted to 120,000 men, all of 

whom had their retainers. This is according to Sayf — who said that with their 
retainers they amounted to over 200,000 persons. According to 'A'ishah and az- 

Zuhri,^ the troop concentration with which Rustum advanced against Sa'd at al- 
Qadisiyah amounted to only 60,000 men, all of whom had their retainers. 

Then, if the Israelites had really amounted to such a number, the extent of 
the area under their rule would have been larger, for the size of administrative units 
and provinces under a particular dynasty is in direct proportion to the size of its 
militia and the groups that support the (dynasty), as will be explained in the section 

on provinces in the first book.— : Now, it is well known that the territory of the 
(Israelites) did not comprise an area larger than the Jordan province and Palestine in 

Syria and the region of Medina and Khaybar in the Hijaz.— Also, there were only 

three generations^ between Moses and Israel, according to the best-informed 
scholars. Moses was the son of Amram, the son of Kohath ( Qahat or Qahit), the son 
of Levi ( Lewi or Lawi),^ the son of Jacob who is Israel- Allah. This is Moses' 
genealogy in the Torah.— The length of time between Israel and Moses was 
indicated by al-Mas'udi when he said: "Israel entered Egypt with his children, the 
tribes, and their children, when they came to Joseph numbering seventy souls. The 
length of their stay in Egypt until they left with Moses for the desert was two 
hundred and twenty years. During those years, the kings of the Copts, the Pharaohs, 
passed them on (as their subjects) one to the other."— It is improbable that the 
descendants of one man could branch out into such a number within four 

generations.— 

It has been assumed that this number of soldiers applied to the time of 
Solomon and his successors. Again, this is improbable. Between Solomon and 
Israel, there were only eleven generations, that is: Solomon, the son of David, the 
son of Jesse, the son of Obed (' Ubidh , or ' Ufidh), the son of Boaz (Ba'az, or Bu'iz), 
the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, the son of Amminadab ('Amminddhab, or 
Hamminddhab), the son of Ram, the son of Hezron (Had/srun, or Hasran), the son 
of Perez ( Baras, or Bayras), the son of Judah, the son of Jacob. The descendants of 
one man in eleven generations would not branch out into such a number, as has been 
assumed. They might, indeed, reach hundreds or thousands. This often happens. But 

an increase beyond that to higher figures^ is improbable. Comparison with 
observable present-day and well-known nearby facts proves the assumption and 

report to be untrue. According to the definite statement of the Israelite Stories,^ 

Solomon's army amounted to 12,000 men, and his horses^ numbered 1,400 horses, 
which were stabled at his palace. This is the correct information. No attention should 
be paid to nonsensical statements by the common run of informants. In the days of 
Solomon, the Israelite state saw its greatest flourishing and their realm its widest 


extension. 

Whenever^ contemporaries speak about the dynastic armies of their own or 
recent times, and whenever they engage in discussions about Muslim or Christian 
soldiers, or when they get to figuring the tax revenues and the money spent by the 
government, the outlays of extravagant spenders, and the goods that rich and 
prosperous men have in stock, they are quite generally found to exaggerate, to go 
beyond the bounds of the ordinary, and to succumb to the temptation of 
sensationalism. When the officials in charge are questioned about their armies, when 
the goods and assets of wealthy people are assessed, and when the outlays of 
extravagant spenders are looked at in ordinary light, the figures will be found to 
amount to a tenth of what those people have said. The reason is simple. It is the 
common desire for sensationalism, the ease with which one may just mention a 
higher figure, and the disregard of reviewers and critics. This leads to failure to 
exercise self-criticism about one's errors and intentions, to demand from oneself 
moderation and fairness in reporting, to reapply oneself to study and research. Such 
historians let themselves go and made a feast of untrue statements. "They procure 
for themselves entertaining stories in order to lead (others) astray from the path of 

God."— This is a bad enough business. 

It — may be said that the increase of descendants to such a number would be 
prevented under ordinary conditions which, however, do not apply to the Israelites. 
(The increase in their case) would be a miracle in accordance with the tradition 
which said that one of the things revealed to their forefathers, the prophets 
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was that God would cause their descendants to increase 
until they were more numerous than the stars of heaven and the pebbles of the earth. 
God fulfilled this promise to them as an act of divine grace bestowed upon them and 
as an extraordinary miracle in their favor. Thus, ordinary conditions could not hinder 
(such an event), and nobody should speak against it. 

Someone might come out against this tradition (with the argument) that it 
occurs only in the Torah which, as is well known, was altered by the Jews. (The 
reply to this argument would be that) the statement concerning the alteration (of the 
Torah by the Jews) is unacceptable to thorough scholars and cannot be understood 
in its plain meaning, since custom prevents people who have a (revealed) religion 
from dealing with their divine scriptures in such a manner. This was mentioned by 

al-Bukhari in the Sahih.— Thus, the great increase in numbers in the case of the 
Israelites would be an extraordinary miracle. Custom, in the proper meaning of the 
word, would prevent anything of the sort from happening to other peoples. 

It is true that a (co-ordinated battle) movement in (such a large group) would 
hardly be possible, but none took place, and there was no need for one. It is also true 
that each realm has its particular number of militia (and no more). But the Israelites 
at first were no militiamen and had no dynasty. Their numbers increased that much, 
so that they could gain power over the land of Canaan which God had promised 
them and the territory of which He had purified for them. All these things are 
miracles. God guides to the truth. 

The— history of the Tubba's, the kings of the Yemen and of the Arabian 
Peninsula, as it is generally transmitted, is another example of silly statements by 
historians. It is said that from their home in the Yemen, (the Tubba's) used to raid 
Ifriqiyah and the Berbers of the Maghrib. Afriqus b. Qays b. Sayfi, one of their great 
early kings who lived in the time of Moses or somewhat earlier,— is said to have 
raided Ifriqiyah. He caused a great slaughter among the Berbers. He gave them the 
name of Berbers when he heard their jargon and asked what that "barbarah" was.— 


This gave them the name which has remained with them since that time. When he 
left the Maghrib, he is said, to have concentrated some Himyar tribes there. They 
remained there and mixed with the native population. Their (descendants) are the 

Sinhajah and the Kutamah. This led at-Tabari, al-Jurjani,— al-Mas udi, Ibn al- 
Kalbi,— and al-Bayhaqi— to make the statement that the Sinhajah and the Kutamah 
belong to the Himyar. The Berber genealogists do not admit this, and they are right. 
Al-Mas'udi also mentioned that one of the Himyar kings after Afriqus, Dhul-Adh'ar, 
who lived in the time of Solomon, raided the Maghrib and forced it into submission. 
Something similar is mentioned by al-Mas'udi concerning his son and successor, 
Yasir.— He is said to have reached the Sand River— in the Maghrib and to have 
been unable to find passage through it because of the great mass of sand. Therefore, 
he returned. 

Likewise, it is said that the last Tubba',— As'ad Abu Karib, who lived in the 
time of the Persian Kayyanid king Yastasb,— ruled over Mosul and Azerbaijan. He 
is said to have met and routed the Turks and to have caused a great slaughter among 
them. Then he raided them again a second and a third time. After that, he is said to 
have sent three of his sons on raids, (one) against the country of Firs, (one) against 
the country of the Soghdians, one of the Turkish nations of Transoxania, and (one) 
against the country of the Rum (Byzantines)— The first brother took possession of 
the country up to Samarkand and crossed the desert into China. There, he found his 
second brother who had raided the Soghdians and had arrived in China before him. 
The two together caused a great slaughter in China and returned together with their 
booty. They left some Himyar tribes in Tibet. They have been there down to this 
time. The third brother is said to have reached Constantinople. He laid siege to it and 
forced the country of the Rum (Byzantines) into submission. Then, he returned. 

All this information is remote from the truth. It is rooted in baseless and 
erroneous assumptions. It is more like the fiction of storytellers. The realm of the 
Tubba's was restricted to the Arabian peninsula. Their home and seat was San'a' in 
the Yemen. The Arabian peninsula is surrounded by the ocean on three sides: the 
Indian Ocean on the south, the Persian Gulf jutting out of the Indian Ocean to al- 
Basrah on the east, and the Red Sea jutting out of the Indian Ocean to Suez in Egypt 
on the west. This can be seen on the map. There is no way from the Yemen to the 
Maghrib except via Suez. The distance between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean 
is two days' journey or less. It is unlikely that the distance could be traversed by a 
great ruler with a large army unless he controlled that region. This, as a rule, is 
impossible. In that region there were the Amalekites and Canaan in Syria, and, in 
Egypt, the Copts. Later on, the Amalekites took possession of Egypt, and the 
Israelites (took possession) of Syria. There is, however, no report that the Tubba's 
ever fought against one of these nations or that they had possession of any part of 
this region. Furthermore, the distance from the Yemen to the Maghrib is great, and 
an army requires much food and fodder. Soldiers traveling in regions other than 
their own have to requisition grain and livestock and to plunder the countries they 
pass through. As a rule, such a procedure does not yield enough food and fodder. On 
the other hand, if they attempted to take along enough provisions from their own 
region, they would not have enough animals for transportation. So, their whole line 
of march necessarily takes them through regions they must take possession of and 
force into submission in order to obtain provisions from them. Again, it would be a 
most unlikely and impossible assumption that such an army could pass through all 
those nations without disturbing them, obtaining its provisions by peaceful 
negotiation. This shows that all such information (about Tubba' expeditions to the 
Maghrib) is silly or fictitious. 


Mention of the (allegedly) impassable Sand River has never been heard in 
the Maghrib, although the Maghrib has often been crossed and its roads have been 

explored by travelers and raiders at all times and in every direction.— Because of the 
unusual character of the story, there is much eagerness to pass it on. 

With regard to the (alleged) raid of the Tubba's against the countries of the 
East and the land of the Turks, it must be admitted that the line of march in this case 
is wider than the (narrow) passage at Suez. The distance, however, is greater, and 
the Persian and Byzantine nations are interposed on the way to the Turks. There is 
no report that the Tubba's ever took possession of the countries of the Persians and 
Byzantines. They merely fought the Persians on the borders of the 'Iraq and of the 
Arab countries between al-Bahrayn and al-Hirah, which were border regions 

common to both nations. — These wars took place between the Tubba' Dhul-Adh'ar 

and the Kayyanid king Kaygawus, and again between the Tubba' al-Asghar — Abu 
Karib and the Kayyanid Yastasb (Bishtasp). There were other wars later on with 
rulers of the dynasties that succeeded the Kayyanids, and, in turn, with their 
successors, the Sassanians. It would, however, ordinarily have been impossible for 
the Tubba's to traverse the land of the Persians on their way to raid the countries of 
the Turks and Tibet, because of the nations that are interposed on the way to the 
Turks, because of the need for food and fodder, as well as the great distance, 
mentioned before. All information to this effect is silly and fictitious. Even if the 
way this information is transmitted were sound, the points mentioned would cast 
suspicion upon it. All the more then must the information be suspect since the 
manner in which it has been transmitted is not sound. In connection with Yathrib 
(Medina) and the Aws and Khazraj, Ibn Ishaq— says that the last Tubba' traveled 
eastward to the 'Iraq and Persia, but a raid by the Tubba's against the countries of the 
Turks and Tibet is in no way confirmed by the established facts. Assertions to this 
effect should not be trusted; all such information should be investigated and checked 

with sound norms.— The result will be that it will most beautifully be demolished. 
God is the guide to that which is correct. 

Even — more unlikely and more deeply rooted in baseless assumptions is the 
common interpretation of the following verse of the Surat al-Fajr: "Did you not see 

what your Lord did with 'Ad -Iram, that of the pillars?"^ 

The commentators consider the word Iram the name of a city which is 
described as having pillars, that is, columns. They report that 'Ad b. 'Us b. Iram had 
two sons, Shadid and Shaddid, who ruled after him. Shadid perished. Shaddad 
became the sole ruler of the realm, and the kings there submitted to his authority. 
When Shaddad heard a description of Paradise, he said: "I shall build something like 
it." And he built the city of Iram in the desert of Aden over a period of three 
hundred years. He himself lived nine hundred years. It is said to have been a large 
city, with castles of gold and silver and columns of emerald and hyacinth, 
containing all kinds of trees and freely flowing rivers. When the construction of (the 
city) was completed, Shaddad went there with the people of his realm. But -when be 
was the distance of only one day and night away from it, God sent a clamor from 

heaven, and all of them perished. This is reported by at-Tabari, ath-Tha'alibi,^l az . 
Zamakhshari,— and other Qur'an commentators. They transmit the following story 

on the authority of one of the men around Muhammad, 'Abdallah b. Qilabah.— 
When he went out in search of some of his camels, he hit upon (the city) and took 
away from it as much as he could carry. His story reached Mu'awiyah, who had him 

brought to him, and he told the story. Mu'awiyah sent for Ka'b al-ahbar— and asked 
him about it. Ka'b said, "It is Iram, that of the pillars. Iram will be entered in your 


time by a Muslim who is of a reddish, ruddy color, and short, with a mole at his 
eyebrow and one on his neck, who goes out in search of some of his camels." He 
then turned around and, seeing Ibn Qilabah, he said: "Indeed, he is that man." 

No information about this city has since become available anywhere on earth. 
The desert of Aden where the city is supposed to have been built lies in the middle 
of the Yemen. It has been inhabited continuously, and travelers and guides have 
explored its roads in every direction. Yet, no information about the city has been 
reported. No antiquarian, no nation has mentioned it. If (the commentators) said that 
it had disappeared like other antiquities, the story would be more likely, but they 
expressly say that it still exists. Some identify it with Damascus, because Damascus 
was in the possession of the people of 'Ad. Others go so far in their crazy talk as to 
maintain that the city lies hidden from sensual perception and can be discovered 
only by trained (magicians) and sorcerers. All these are assumptions that would 
better be termed nonsense. 

All these suggestions proffered by Qur'an commentators were the result of 
grammatical considerations, for Arabic grammar requires the expression, "that of the 
pillars," to be an attribute of Iram. The word "pillars" was understood to mean 
columns. Thus, Iram was narrowed down in its meaning to some sort of building. 
(The Qur'an commentators) were influenced in their interpretation by the reading of 

Ibn az-Zubayr— who read (not 'Adin with nunation but) a genitive construction: 'Ad 
of Iram. They then adopted these stories, which are better called fictitious fables and 
which are quite similar to the (Qur'an) interpretations of Sayfawayh which are 

related as comic anecdotes. 2^ 

(In fact,) however, the "pillars" are tent poles. If "columns" were intended by 
the word, it would not be farfetched, as the power of (the people of Ad) was well 
known, and they could be described as people with buildings and columns in the 
general way. But it would be farfetched to say that a special building in one or 
another specific city (was intended). If it is a genitive construction, as would be the 
case according to the reading of Ibn az-Zubayr, it would be a genitive construction 
used to express tribal relationships, such as, for instance, the Quraysh of Kinanah, or 
the Ilyis of Mudar, or the Rabi'ah of Nizir. There is no need for such an implausible 
interpretation which uses for its starting point silly stories of the sort mentioned, 
which cannot be imputed to the Qur'an because they are so implausible. 

Another fictitious story of'the historians, which'they all report, concerns the 
reason for ar-Rashid's destruction of the Barmecides. It is the story of al-'Abbasah, 
ar-Rashid's sister, and Ja'far b. Yahya b. Khalid, his client. Ar- Rashid is said to have 
worried about where to place them when he was drinking wine with them. He 
wanted to receive them together in his company. Therefore, he permitted them to 
conclude a marriage that was not consummated. Al-'Abbasah then tricked (Ja'far) in 
her desire to be alone with him,— for she had fallen in love with him. Jafar finally 
had intercourse with her-it is assumed, when he was drunk-and she became 
pregnant. The story was reported to ar-Rashid who flew into a rage. 

This story— is irreconcilable with al-'Abbasah's position, her religiousness, 
her parentage, and her exalted rank. She was a descendant of 'Abdallah b. 'Abbas 
and separated from him by only four generations, and they were the most 
distinguished and greatest men in Islam after him. Al-'Abbasah was the daughter of 
Muhammad al-Mahdi, the son of Abu Ja'far 'Abdallah al-Manslir, the son of 
Muhammad as-Sajjad, the son of the Father of the Caliphs 'Ali. 'Ali was the son of 
'Abdallah, the Interpreter of the Qur'an, the son of the Prophet's uncle, al-'Abbas. Al- 
'Abbasah was the daughter of a caliph and the sister of a caliph. She was born to 
royal power, into the prophetical succession (the caliphate), and descended from the 


men-around-Muhammad aril his uncles. She was connected by birth with the 
leadership of Islam, the light of the revelation, and the place where the angels 
descended to bring the revelation. She was close in time to the desert attitude of true 
Arabism, to that simple state of Islam still far from the habits of luxury and lush 
pastures of sin. Where should one look for chastity and modesty, if she did not 
possess them? Where could cleanliness and purity be found, if they no longer 
existed in her house? How could she link her pedigree with (that of) Ja'far b. Yahya 
and stain her Arab nobility with a Persian client? His Persian ancestor had been 
acquired as a slave, or taken as a client, by one of her ancestors, an uncle of the 
Prophet and noble Qurashite, and all (Ja'far) did was that he together with his father 
was dragged along (by the growing fame of) the 'Abbisid dynasty and thus prepared 
for and elevated to a position of nobility. And how could it be that ar- Rashid, with 
his high-mindedness and great pride, would permit himself to become related by 
marriage to Persian clients! If a critical person looks at this story in all fairness and 
compares al-'Abbasah with the daughter of a great ruler of his own time, he must 
find it disgusting and unbelievable that she could have done such a thing with one of 
the clients of her dynasty and while her family was in power. He would insist that 
the story be considered untrue. And who could compare with al-'Abbasah and ar- 
Rashid in dignity! 

The reason for the destruction of the Barmecides was their attempt to gain 
control over the dynasty and their retention of the tax revenues. This went so far that 
when ar-Rashid wanted even a little money, he could not get it. They took his 
affairs out of his hands and shared with him in his authority. He had no say with 
them in the affairs of his realm. Their influence grew, and their fame spread. They 
filled the positions and ranks of the government with their own children and 
creatures who became high officials, and thus barred all others from the positions of 
wazir, secretary, army commander, doorkeeper ( hajb ), and from the military and 
civilian administration. It is said that in the palace of ar-Rashid, there were twenty- 
five high officials, both military and civilian, all children of Yahya b. Khalid. There, 
they crowded the people of the dynasty and pushed them out by force. They could 
do that because of the position of their father, Yahya, mentor to Harun both as 
crown prince and as caliph. (Harun) practically grew up in his lap and got all his 
education from him. (Harun) let him handle his affairs and used to call him "father." 

As a result, the (Barmecides), and not the government, wielded all the influence. 2^- 
Their presumption grew. Their position became more and more influential. They 
became the center of attention. All obeyed them. All hopes were addressed to them. 
From the farthest borders, presents and gifts of rulers and amirs were sent to them. 
The tax money found its way into their treasury, to serve as an introduction to them 
and to procure their favor. They gave gifts to and bestowed favors upon the men of 

the ('Alid) Shi'ah— and upon important relatives (of the Prophet). They gave the 
poor from the noble families (related to the Prophet) something to earn. They freed 
the captives. Thus, they were given praise as was not given to their caliph. They 
showered privileges and gifts upon those who came to ask favors from them. They 
gained control over villages and estates in the open country and (near) the main 
cities in every province. 

Eventually, the Barmecides irritated the inner circle. They caused resentment 
among the elite and aroused the displeasure of high officials. Jealousy and envy of 
all sorts began to show themselves, and the scorpions of intrigue crept into their soft 
beds in the government. The Qahtabah family, Ja'far's maternal uncles, led the 
intrigues against them. Feelings for blood ties and relationship could not move or 
sway them (the Qahtabah family) from the envy which was so heavy on their hearts. 
This joined with their master's incipient jealousy, with his dislike of restrictions and 
(of being treated with) highhandedness, and with his latent resentment aroused by 


small acts of presumptuousness on the part of the Barmecides. When they continued 
to flourish as they did, they were led to gross insubordination, as is shown, for 
instance, by their action in the case of Yahya b. 'Abdallah b. Hasan b.' al-Hasan b. 
'All b. Abi Talib, the brother of "the Pure Soul" (an-Nafs az-Zakiyah), Muhammad 

al-Mahdi, who had revolted against al-Mansur.— 

This Yahya had been brought back by al-Fadl b. Yahya from the country of 
the Daylam under a safe-conduct of ar Rashid written in his own hand. According to 
at-Tabari,— (al-Fadl) had paid out a million dirhams in this matter. Ar- Rashid 
handed Yahya over to Ja'far to keep him imprisoned in his house and under his eyes. 
He held him for a while but, prompted by presumption, Ja'far freed Yahya by his 
own decision, out of respect for the blood of the Prophet's family as he thought, and 
in order to show his presumption against the government. When the matter was 
reported to ar-Rashid, he asked Ja'far about (Yahya). Ja'far understood and said that 
he had let him go. Ar-Rashid outwardly indicated approval and kept his grudge to 
himself. Thus, Ja'far himself paved the way for his own and his family's undoing, 
which ended with the collapse of their exalted position, with the heavens falling in 
upon them and the earth's sinking with them and their house. Their days of glory 
became a thing of the past, an example to later generations. 

Close examination of their story, scrutinizing the ways of government and 
their own conduct, discloses that all this was natural and is easily explained. 

Looking at Ibn 'Abdrabbib's report — on ar- Rashid's conversation with his great- 
granduncle Dawud b. 'Ali concerning the destruction of the Barmecides as well as 
al-Asma'i's evening causeries with ar Rashid and al-Fadl b. Yahya, as mentioned in 

the chapter on poets in the 'Jgd,— one understands that it was only jealousy and 
struggle for control on the part of the caliph and his subordinates that killed them. 
Another factor was the verses that enemies of the Barmecides among the inner circle 
surreptitiously gave the singers to recite, in the intention that the caliph should hear 
them and his stored-up animosity against them be aroused. These are the verses: 

Would that Hind could fulfill her promise to us 

And deliver us from our predicament, 

And for once act on her own. 

The impotent person is he who never acts on his own.— 

When ar-Rashid heard these verses, he exclaimed: "Indeed, I am just such an 
impotent person." By this and similar methods, the enemies of the Barmecides 
eventually succeeded in arousing ar-Rashid's latent jealousy and in bringing his 
terrible vengeance upon them. God is our refuge from men's desire for power and 
from misfortune. 

The stupid story of ar-Rashid's winebibbing and his getting drunk in the 
company of boon companions is really abominable. It does not in the least agree 
with ar-Rashid's attitude toward the fulfillment of the requirements of religion and 
justice incumbent upon caliphs. He consorted with religious scholars and saints. He 

had discussions with alFudayl b. 'Iyad,— Ibn as-Sammak,— and al-'Umari,— and he 
corresponded with Sufyan.— He wept when he heard their sermons. Then, there is 
his prayer in Mecca when he circumambulated the Ka'bah.— He was pious, observed 
the times of prayer, and attended the morning prayer at its earliest hour. According 
to at-Tabari and others, he used every day to pray one hundred supererogatory 

rak'ahs.^Q Alternately, he was used to go on raids (against unbelievers) one year and 
to make the pilgrimage to Mecca the other. He rebuked his jester, Ibn Abi Maryam, 
who made an unseemly remark to him during prayer. When Ibn Abi Maryam heard 


ar-Rashid recite: "How is it that I should not worship Him who created me?" — he 
said: "Indeed, I do not know why." Ar-Rashid could not suppress a laugh, but then 
he turned to him angrily and said: "O Ibn Abi Maryam, (jokes) even during the 
prayer? Beware, beware of the Qur'an and Islam. Apart from that, you may do 
whatever you wish."— 

Furthermore, ar-Rashid possessed a good deal of learning and simplicity, 
because his epoch was close to that of his forebears who had those (qualities). The 
time between him and his grandfather, Abu Ja'far (al-Mansur), was not a long one. 
He was a young lad when Abu Ja'far died. Abu Jafar possessed a good deal of 
learning and religion before he became caliph and (kept them) afterwards. It was he 
who advised Malik to write the Muwatta', saying: "O Abu 'Abdallah, no one remains 
on earth more learned than I and you. Now, I am too much occupied with the 
caliphate. Therefore, you should write a book for the people which will be useful for 
them. In it you should avoid the laxity of Ibn 'Abbas and the severity of Ibn 

'Umar, 23 and present (watti') it clearly to the people." Malik commented: "On that 
occasion, al-Mansur indeed taught me to be an author." 24 

Al- Mansur's son, al-Mahdi, ar- Rashid's father, experienced the (austerity of 
al-Mansur) who would not make use of the public treasury to provide new clothes 
for his family. One day, al-Mahdi came to him when he was in his office discussing 
with the tailors the patching of his family's worn garments. Al-Mahdi did not like 
that and said: "O Commander of the Faithful, this year I shall pay for the clothes of 
the members of the family from my own income." AlMansur's reply was: "Do that." 
He did not prevent him from paying himself but would not permit any (public) 
Muslim money to be spent for it. Ar-Rashid was very close in time to that caliph 

and to his forebears.22 He was reared under the influence of such and similar 
conduct in his own family, so that it became his own nature. How could such a man 
have been a winebibber and have drunk wine openly? It is well known that noble 
pre-Islamic Arabs avoided wine. The vine was not one of the plants (cultivated) by 
them. Most of them considered it reprehensible to drink wine. Ar-Rashid and his 
forebears were very successful in avoiding anything reprehensible in their religious 
or worldly affairs and in making all praiseworthy actions and qualities of perfection, 
as well as the aspirations of the Arabs, their own nature. 

One may further compare the story of the physician Jibril b. Bukhtishu' 

reported by at-Tabari and al-Mas'udi.2£ A fish had been served at ar-Rashid's table, 
and Jibril had not permitted him to eat it. (Jibril) had then ordered the table steward 
to bring the fish to (Jibril's) house. ArRashid noticed it and got suspicious. He had 

his servant spy on Jibril, and the servant observed him partaking of it. In order to 
justify himself, Ibn Bukhtishu' had three pieces of fish placed in three separate 
dishes. He mixed the first piece with meat that had been prepared with different 
kinds of spices, vegetables, hot sauces, and sweets. He poured iced water over the 
second piece, and pure wine over the third. The first and second dishes, he said, 
were for the caliph to eat, no matter whether something was added by him (Ibn 
Bukhtishu') to the fish or not. The third dish, he said, was for himself to eat. He gave 
the three dishes to the table steward. When ar-Rashid woke up and had Ibn 
Bukhtishu' called in to reprimand him, the latter had the three dishes brought. The 
one with wine had become a soup with small pieces of fish, but the two other dishes 
had spoiled, and smelled differently. This was (sufficient) justification of Ibn 
Bukhtishu" s action (in eating a dish of fish that he had prevented the caliph from 
eating). It is clear from this story that ar-Rashid's avoidance of wine was a fact well 
known to his inner circle and to those who dined with him. 

It is a well-established fact that ar-Rashid had consented to keep Abu Nuwas 


imprisoned until he repented and gave up his ways, because he had heard of the 

latter's excessive winebibbing.— Ar- Rashid used to drink a date liquor (nabidh), 
according to the 'Iraqi legal school whose responsa (concerning the permissibility of 
that drink) are well known.— But he cannot be suspected of having drunk pure 
wine. Silly reports to. this effect cannot be credited. He was not the man to do 
something that is forbidden and considered by the Muslims as one of the greatest of 
the capital sins. Not one of these people (the early ’Abbasids) had anything to do 
with effeminate prodigality or luxury in matters of clothing, jewelry, or the kind of 
food they took. They still retained the tough desert attitude and the simple state of 
Islam. Could it be assumed they would do something that would lead from the 
lawful to the unlawful and from the licit to the illicit? Historians such as at-Tabari, 
al-Mas'udi, and others are agreed that all the early Umayyad and 'Abbasid caliphs 
used to ride out with only light silver ornamentation on their belts, swords, bridles, 
and saddles, and that the first caliph to originate riding out in golden apparel was al- 

Mu'tazz b. alMutawakkil, the eighth caliph after ar-Rashid.— The same applied to 
their clothing. Could one, then, assume any differently with regard to what they 
drank? This will become still clearer when the nature of dynastic beginnings in 
desert life and modest circumstances is understood, as we shall explain it among the 

problems discussed in the first book, if God wills.— 

A parallel or similar story is that reported by all (the historians) about Yahya 

b. Aktham, the judge and friend of al-Ma'mun.1^1 He is said to have drunk wine 
together with al-Ma'mun and to have gotten drunk one night. He lay buried among 
the sweet basil until he woke up. The following verses are recited in his name: 

0 my lord, commander of all the people! 

He who gave me to drink was unjust in his judgment. 

1 neglected the cupbearer, and he caused me to be, 

As you see me, deprived of intelligence and religion. 

The same applies to Ibn Aktham and al-Ma'mun that applies to ar-Rashid. 
What they drank was a date liquor (nabidh) which in their opinion was not 
forbidden. There can be no question of drunkenness in connection with them. 

Yahyi's familiarity with al-Ma'mun was friendship in Islam. It is an established fact 
that Yahya slept in al-Ma'mum's room. It has been reported, as an indication of al- 

Ma'mun's excellence and affability, that one night he awoke, 1^2 got U p, and felt 
around for the chamber pot. He was afraid to wake Yahya b. Aktham. It also is an 
established fact that the two used to pray together at the morning prayer. How does 
that accord with drinking wine together! Furthermore, Yahya b. Aktham was a 

transmitter of traditions. He was praised by Ibn Hanball^2 anc j Judge Ismi'il.l^ At- 

TirmidhilQ2 published traditions on his authority. The hadith expert al-Mizzi 
mentioned that al-Bukhari transmitted traditions on Yahya's authority in works other 

than the Jami' (as-Sahih).— To vilify Yahya is to vilify all of these scholars. 

Furthermore, licentious persons accuse Yahya b. Aktham of having had an 
inclination for young men. This is an affront to God and a malicious lie directed 
against religious scholars. (These persons) base themselves on storytellers' silly 
reports, which perhaps were an invention of Yahya's enemies, for he was much 
envied because of his perfection and his friendship with the ruler. His position in 
scholarship and religion makes such a thing impossible. When Ibn Hanbal was told 
about these rumors concerning Yahya, he exclaimed: "For God's sake, for God's 
sake, who would say such a thing!" He disapproved of it very strongly. When the 
talk about Yahya was mentioned to Ismi'il, he exclaimed: "Heaven forbid that the 


probity (’adalah) of such a man should cease to exist because of the lying 

accusations of envious talebearers." IQS He said: "Yahya b. Aktham is innocent in 
the eyes of God of any such relationship with young men (as that) of which he is 
accused. I got to know his most intimate thoughts and found him to be much in fear 
of God. However, he possessed a certain playfulness and friendliness that might 
have provoked such accusations." Ibn Hibban mentioned him in the Thiqat — He 
said that no attention should be paid to these tales about him because most of them 
were not correct. 

A similar story is the one about the basket reported by Ibn 'Abdrabbih, author 
of the 'Iqd, in explanation of how al-Ma'mun came to be al-Hasan b. Sahl's son-in- 

law by marrying his daughter Buran.— One night, on his rambles through the 
streets of Baghdad, al-Ma'mun is said to have come upon a basket that was being let 
down from one of the roofs by means of pulleys and twisted cords of silk thread. He 
seated himself in the basket and grabbed the pulley, which started moving. He was 
taken up into a chamber of such-andsuch a condition-Ibn 'Abdrabbih described the 
eye and soul-filling splendor of its carpets, the magnificence of its furnishings, and 
the beauty of its appearance. Then, a woman of extraordinary, seductive beauty is 
said to have come forth from behind curtains in that chamber. She greeted al- 
Ma'mun and invited him to keep her company. He drank wine with her the whole 
night long. In the morning he returned to his companions at the place where they 
had been awaiting him. He had fallen so much in love with the woman that he asked 
her father for her hand. How does all this accord with alMa'mun's well-known 
religion and learning, with his imitation of the way of life of his forefathers, the 
right-guided ('Abbasid) caliphs, with his adoption of the way of life of those pillars 
of Islam, the (first) four caliphs, with his respect for the religious scholars, or his 
observance in his prayers and legal practice of the norms established by God! How 
could it be correct that he would act like (one of those) wicked scoundrels who 
amuse themselves by rambling about at night, entering strange houses in the dark, 
and engaging in nocturnal trysts in the manner of Bedouin lovers! And how does 
that story fit with the position and noble character of al-Hasan b. Sahl's daughter, 
and with the firm morality and chastity that reigned in her father's house! 

There are many such stories. They are always cropping up in the works of 
the historians. The incentive for inventing and reporting them is a (general) 
inclination to forbidden pleasures and for smearing the reputation of others. People 
justify their own subservience to pleasure by citing men and women of the past 
(who allegedly did the same things they are doing). Therefore, they often appear 
very eager for such information and are alert to find it when they go through the 
pages of (published) works. If they would follow the example of the people (of the 
past) in other respects and in the qualities of perfection that were theirs and for 

which they are well known, "it would be better for them," 111 "if they would 
know." 112 

I once criticized a royal prince for being so eager to learn to sing and play 
the strings. I told him it was not a matter that should concern him and that it did not 

befit his position. He referred me to Ibrahim b. al-'Mahdi H3 w q 0 was the leading 
musician and best singer in his time. I replied: "For heaven's sake, why do you not 
rather follow the example of his father or his brother? Do you not see how that 
activity prevented Ibrahim from attaining their position?" The prince, however, was 
deaf to my criticism and turned away. 

Further silly information which is accepted by many historians concerns the 
'Ubaydid (-Fatimids), the Shi'ah caliphs in al-Qayrawan and Cairo.— (These 


historians) deny their 'Alid origin and attack (the genuineness of) their descent from 
the imam Ismail, the son of Ja'far as-Sadiq. They base themselves in this respect on 
stories that were made up in favor of the weak 'Abbasid caliphs by people who 
wanted to ingratiate themselves with them through accusations against their active 
opponents and who (therefore) liked to say all kinds of bad things about their 
enemies. We shall mention some such stories in our treatment of the history of (the 
’Ubaydid-Fatimids). (These historians) do not care to consider the factual proofs and 
circumstantial evidence that require (us to recognize) that the contrary is true and 
that their claim is a lie and must be rejected. 

They all tell the same story about the'begilnli g of the Shi'ah dynasty. Abu 

Abdallah al-Muhtasib^^- went among the Kutamah urging acceptance of the family 
of Muhammad (the 'Alids). His activity became known. It was learned how much he 
cared for 'Ubaydallah al-Mahdi and his son, Abul-Qasim. Therefore, these two 
feared for their lives and fled the East, the seat of the caliphate. They passed through 
Egypt and left Alexandria disguised as merchants. Isa anNawshari, the governor of 
Egypt and Alexandria, was informed of them. He sent cavalry troops in pursuit of 
them, but when their pursuers reached them, they did not recognize them because of 

their attire and disguise. They escaped into the Maghrib. Al-Mu'tadid ordered 
the Aghlabid rulers of Ifriqiyah in al-Qayrawan as well as the Midrarid rulers of 
Sijilmasah to search everywhere for them and to keep a sharp lookout for them. 
Ilyasa', the Midrarid lord of Sijilmasah, learned about their hiding place in his 
country and detained them, in order to please the caliph. This was before the Shi'ah 
victory over the Aghlabids in al-Qayrawan. Thereafter, as is well known, the 
(’Ubaydid-Fatimid) propaganda spread successfully throughout Ifriqiyah and the 
Maghrib, and then, in turn, reached the Yemen, Alexandria and (the rest of) Egypt, 
Syria and the Hijaz. The ('Ubaydid-Fatimids) shared the realm of Islam equally with 
the Abbasids. They almost succeeded in penetrating the home country of the 
'Abbasids and in taking their place as rulers. Their propaganda in Baghdad and the 
'Iraq met with success through the amir al-Basasiri, one of the Daylam clients who 
had gained control of the 'Abbasid caliphs. This happened as the result of a quarrel 

between al-Basasiri and the non- Arab amirs. HI For a whole year, the ('Ubaydid- 
Fatimids) were mentioned in the Friday prayer from the pulpits of Baghdad. The 
'Abbasids were continually bothered by the (’UbaydidFatimid) power and 
preponderance, and the Umayyad rulers beyond the sea (in Spain) expressed their 
annoyance with them and threatened war against them. How could all this have 
befallen a fraudulent claimant to the rulership, who was (moreover) considered a 

|j ar ?Uii One should compare (this account with) the history of the Qarmatian.— 

His genealogy was, in fact, fraudulent. How completely did his propaganda 
disintegrate and his followers disperse! Their viciousness and guile soon became 
apparent. They came to an evil end and tasted a bitter fate. If the 'Ubaydid(- 
Fatimids) had been in the same situation, it would have become known, even had it 
taken some time. 

Whatever qualities of character a man may have,. 

They will become known, even if he imagines they are concealed from the 

peoplel^Q 

The (’Ubaydid-Fatimid) dynasty lasted uninterruptedly for about two hundred 
and seventy years. They held possession of the place where Ibrahim (Abraham) had 

stood 121 anc j where he had prayed, the home of the Prophet and the place where he 
was buried, the place where the pilgrims stand and where the angels descended (to 
bring the revelation to Muhammad). Then, their rule came to an end. During all that 


time, their partisans showed them the greatest devotion and love and firmly believed 
in their descent from the imam Ismail, the son of Ja'far as-Sadiq. Even after the 
dynasty had gone and its influence had disappeared, people still came forward to 
press the claims of the sect. They proclaimed the names of young children, 
descendants of (the 'UbaydidFatimids), whom they believed entitled to the caliphate. 
They went so far as to consider them as having actually been appointed to the 
succession by preceding imams. Had there been doubts about their pedigree, their 
followers would not have undergone the dangers involved in supporting them. A 
sectarian does not manipulate his own affairs, nor sow confusion within his own 
sect, nor act as a liar where his own beliefs are concerned. 

It is strange that Judge Abu Bakr al - B a q i 1 1 a n i ’ J-22. t q e g rea t speculative 
theologian, was inclined to credit this unacceptable view (as to the spuriousness of 
the 'Ubaydid-Fatimid genealogy), and upheld this weak opinion. If the reason for his 
attitude was the heretical and extremist Shi'ism of (the 'Ubaydid-Fatimids, it would 

not be valid, for his denial of their 'Alid descent) does not invalidate 123 (the 
objectionable character of) their sectarian beliefs, nor would establishment of their 
('Alid) descent be of any help to them before God in the question of their unbelief. 
God said to Noah concerning his sons: "He does not belong to your family. It is an 
improper action. So do not ask me regarding that of which you have no 

knowledge. "12! Muhammad exhorted Fatimah in these words: "O Fatimah, act (as 
you wish). I shall be of no help to you before God."^^ 

When a man comes to know a problem or to be certain about a matter, he 
must openly state (his knowledge or his certainty). "God speaks the truth. He leads 

(men into) the right way."12^ Those people (the ’Ubaydid-Fatimids) were constantly 
on the move because of the suspicions various governments had concerning them. 
They were kept under observation by the tyrants, because their partisans were 
numerous and their propaganda had spread far and wide. Time after time they had 
to leave the places where they had settled. Their men, therefore, took refuge in 
hiding, and their (identity) was hardly known, as (the poet) says: 

If you would ask the days what my name is, they would 
not know, 

And where I am, they would not know where I am. 12£ 

This went so far that Muhammad, the son of the imam Isma'il, the ancestor 

of 'Ubaydallah al-Mahdi, was called "the Concealed (Imam). "122 His partisans 
called him by that name because they were agreed on the fact he was hiding out of 
fear of those who had them in their power. The partisans of the 'Abbasids made 
much use of this fact when they came out with their attack against the pedigree of 
(the ’UbaydidFatimids). They tried to ingratiate themselves with the weak (’Abbasid) 
caliphs by professing the erroneous opinion that (the 'Alid descent of the 'Ubaydid- 
Fatimids was spurious). It pleased the 'Abbasid clients and the amirs who were in 
charge of military operations against the enemies of the ('Abbasids). It helped them 
and the government to make up for their inability to resist and repel the Kutimah 

Berbers, the partisans and propagandists 12& of the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimids), who had 
taken Syria, Egypt, and the Hijaz away from (the 'Abbasids). The judges in Baghdad 
eventually prepared an official statement denying the 'Alid origin (of the 'Ubaydid- 

Fatimids).!^ The statement was witnessed by a number of prominent men, among 

them the Sharif ar-Radi 13Q a nd his brother al-Murtada,121 an d Ibn al-Bathawi.-— 
Among the religious scholars (who also witnessed the document) were Abu Hamid 
al-Isfarayini,!23 a l-Quduri,12! as-Saymari— Ibn al-Akfani,-— al-Abiwardi,12Z 


the Shi'ah jurist Abu 'Abdallah b. an-Nu'man,138 and other prominent Muslims in 

Baghdad. The event took place one memorable 132 day in the year 402 [1011] in the 
time of al-Qadir. The testimony (of these witnesses) was based upon hearsay, on 
what people in Baghdad generally believed. Most of them were partisans of the 
'Abbasids who attacked the 'Alid origin (of the ’UbaydidFatimids). The historians 
reported the information as they had heard it. They handed it down to us just as they 

remembered it. However, the truth lies behind it. Al-Mu'tadid's HQ letter concerning 
'Ubaydallah (addressed) to the Aghlabid in al-Qayrawan and the Midrarid in 
Sijilmasah, testifies most truthfully to the correctness of the ('Alid) origin of the 
(’Ubaydid-Fatimids), and proves it most clearly. AlMu'tadid (as a very close 
relative) was better qualified than anyone else to speak about the genealogy of the 
Prophet's house.— 

Dynasty and government serve as the world's market place,— attracting to it 
the products of scholarship and craftsmanship alike. Wayward wisdom and forgotten 
lore turn up there. In this market stories are told and items of historical information 
are delivered. Whatever is in demand on this market is in general demand 
everywhere else. Now, whenever the established dynasty avoids injustice, prejudice, 
weakness, and double-dealing, with determination keeping to the right path and 
never swerving from it, the wares on its market are as pure silver and fine gold. 
However, when it is influenced by selfish interests and rivalries, or swayed by 
vendors of tyranny and dishonesty, the wares of its market place become as dross 
and debased metals. The intelligent critic must judge for himself as he looks around, 
examining this, admiring that, and choosing this. 

A similar and even more improbable story is one privately discussed by 
those who attack the ('Alid) descent of Idris b. Idris b. 'Abdallah b. Hasan b. al- 

Hasan b. 'All b. Abi Talib, who became imam after his father in Morocco. H3 They 
hint at the punishable crime of adultery by insinuating that the unborn child left after 
the death of the elder Idris was in fact the child of Rashid, a client of the Idrisids. 
How stupid of these God-forsaken men! They should know that the elder Idris 
married into the Berber tribes and, from the time he came to the Maghrib until his 
death, was firmly rooted in desert life. In the desert, no such thing could remain a 
secret. There are no hiding places there where things can be done in secret. The 
neighbors (if they are women) can always see and (if they are men) always hear 
what their women are doing, because the houses are low and clustered together 
without space between them. Rashid was entrusted with the stewardship of all the 
women after the death of his master, upon the recommendation of friends and 
partisans of the Idrisids and subject to the supervision of them all. Furthermore, all 
Moroccan Berbers agreed to render the oath of allegiance to the younger Idris as his 
father's successor. They voluntarily agreed to obey him. They swore that they were 
willing to die for him, and they exposed themselves to mortal danger protecting him 
in his wars and raids. Had they told each other some such scandalous story or heard 
it from someone else, even a vengeful enemy or scandal-mongering rebel, some of 
them at least would have refused to do those things. No, this story originated with 
the 'Abbasid opponents of the Idrisids and with the Aghlabids, the 'Abbasid 
governors and officials in Ifriqiyah 

This happened in the following manner. When the elder Idris fled to the 
Maghrib after the battle of Fakhkh,— alHadi sent orders to the Aghlabids to lie in 
wait and keep a sharp watch out for him. However, they did not catch him, and he 
escaped safely to the Maghrib. He consolidated his position, and his propaganda was 
successful. Later on, arRashid became aware of the secret Shi'ah leanings of Wadih, 
the 'Abbasid client and governor of Alexandria, and of his deceitful attitude in 


connection with the escape of Idris to the Maghrib, and (ar-Rashid) killed (Wadih). 
Then, ashShammakh, a client of (ar-Rashid's) father, suggested to arRashid a ruse 
by means of which to kill Idris. (Ash-Shammakh) pretended to become his adherent 
and to have broken with his Abbasid masters. Idris took him under his protection 
and admitted him to his private company. Once, when Idris was alone, ash- 
Shammakh gave him some poison and thus killed him. The news of his death was 
received by the 'Abbasids most favorably, since they hoped that it would cut the 
roots and blunt the edge of the 'Alid propaganda in the Maghrib. News of the 
unborn child left after Idris' death had not (yet) reached them. Thus, it was only a 
brief moment until the ('Alid) propaganda reappeared. The Shi'ah was successful in 
the Maghrib, and Shi'ah rule was renewed through Idris, Idris' son. This was a most 
painful blow to the 'Abbasids. Weakness and senility had already taken hold of the 
Arab dynasty. No longer could (the 'Abbasids) aspire to the control of remote 
regions. Far away as the elder Idris was in the Maghrib, under the protection of the 
Berbers, ar-Rashid had just enough power, and no more, to poison him with the help 
of a ruse. Therefore, the 'Abbasids now had recourse to their Aghlabid clients in 
Ifrigiyah. They asked them to heal the dangerous breach caused by (the Idrisids), to 
take measures against the woe that threatened to befall the dynasty from that 
direction, and to uproot (the Idrisids) before they could spread. Al-Ma'mun and the 
succeeding caliphs wrote to the Aghlabids to this effect. However, the Aghlabids 
were also too weak (to control) the Berbers of Morocco, and might better have tried 
to embarrass their own rulers as (the Idrisids embarrassed them), because the power 
of the caliphate had been usurped by non- Arab slaves, who diverted to their own 
purposes its entire control and authority — over men, taxes, and functionaries. It 
was as the contemporary ('Abbasid) poet described it:— 

A caliph in a cage 

Between Wasif and Bugha 

He says what they tell him, 

Like a parrot. 

The Aghlabid amirs, therefore, were afraid of possible intrigues and tried all 
kinds of excuses. Sometimes, they belittled the Maghrib and its inhabitants. At other 
times, they tried to arouse fear of the power of Idris and his descendants who had 
taken his place there. They wrote the 'Abbasids that he was crossing the borders of 
his territory. They included his coins among their gifts, presents, and tax collections, 
in order to show his growing influence and to spread terror about his increasing 
power, to magnify (the dangers) which would lie in attacking and fighting him, as 
they were being asked to do, and to threaten a change in allegiance if they were 
forced to that. Again, at other times, they attacked the descent of Idris with the 
(aforementioned) lie, in order to harm him. They did not care whether the accusation 
was true or not. The distance (from Baghdad) was great, and, weak-minded as the 
'Abbasid children and their non- Arab slaves were, they took anybody's word and 
listened to anybody's noise. They went on in this manner until the Aghlabid rule 
came to an end. 

The nasty remark (about the Idrisid genealogy) then became known to the 
mob. Some slanderers listened eagerly to it, using it to harm the Idrisids when there 
were rivalries. Why do such God-forsaken men stray from the intentions of the 
religious law, which knows no difference between definite (fact) and (mere) guess? 

iiAM idris was born in his father's bed, and "the child belongs to the bed."— It is a 
(Muslim) article of faith that the descendants of Muhammad are above any such 
thing (as adultery). God removed every turpitude from them and cleansed them. 

Idris' bed is free of all uncleanliness and all turpitude. This is decided in the 


Qur'an. 142 Whoever believes the contrary confesses his guilt and invites unbelief. 

I have refuted the accusation against Idris here at length, in order to forestall 
doubts and strike out against the envious. I heard the story with my own ears from a 
man who was hostile to (the Idrisids) and attacked their descent with this lying 
invention. In his self-deception, he passed on the story on the authority of certain 
historians of the Maghrib who had turned their backs on Muhammad's descendants 
and were skeptical concerning their ancestors. But the situation (of the Idrisids) is 
above all that and not susceptible of such a (taint). (No space should be devoted to 
refuting such an accusation, since) to deny a fault where (the existence of) a fault is 

impossible is (in itself) a fault.— However, I did defend them here in this world 
and, thus, I hope that they will defend me on the Day of Resurrection. 

It should be known that most of those who attack the ('Alid) descent of (the 
Idrisids) are themselves persons who claim to be descendants of Muhammad or 
pretend to be connected with his descendants, and who envy the descendants of 
Idris. The claim to (Muhammadan) descent is a great title to nobility among nations 
and races in all regions. Therefore, it is subject to suspicion. Now, both in their 
native Fez and in the other regions of the Maghrib, the descent of the Idrisids is so 
well known and evident that almost no one can show or hope to show as well- 
established a pedigree. It is the result of continuous transmission by the more recent 
nations and generations on the authority of the older preceding ones. The Idrisids 
count the house of their ancestor Idris, the founder and builder of Fez, among their 
houses. His mosque is adjacent to their quarter and streets. His sword is (suspended) 
unsheathed atop the main minaret of their residence. There are other relics of his 
which have been attested to many times in an uninterrupted tradition, so that the 
tradition concerning them is almost as valuable as direct observation (as to its 
reliability). Other descendants of Muhammad can look at these signs which God 
gave to the Idrisids. They will see the Muhammadan nobility of the Idrisids 
enhanced by the majesty of the royal authority their ancestors exercised in the 
Maghrib. They will realize that they themselves have nothing of the sort and that 
they do not measure up even halfway to any one of the Idrisids. They will also 
realize that those who claim to be Muhammad's descendants but do not have such 
testimonies to confirm their claim as the Idrisids have, may at best find their position 
conceded (as possibly true), because people are to be believed with regard to the 
descent they claim for themselves, — but there is a difference between what is 
known and what is mere guess, between what is certain and what is merely 
conceded as possibly true. 

When they realize these facts, they are choked in their own spittle (which 
they swallow in impotent jealousy). Their private envy causes many of them to wish 
that they could bring down the Idrisids from their noble position to the status of 
ordinary, humble persons. Therefore, they have recourse to spite and persistent 
malevolence and invent erroneous and lying accusations such as the one discussed. 
They justify themselves by the assumption that all guesses are equally probable. 

They ought to (prove) that! We know of no descendants of Muhammad whose 
lineage is so clearly and obviously established as that of the descendants of Idris of 
the family of al-Hasan. The most distinguished Idrisids at this time are the Banu 
'Imran in Fez. They are descendants of Yahya al-Juti b. Muhammad b. Yahya al- 
'Addam b. alQasim b. Idris b. Idris. They are the chiefs of the 'Alids there. They live 
(at the present time) in the house of their ancestor Idris. They are the leading 
nobility of the entire Maghrib. We shall mention them in connection with the 
Idrisids, if God wills.— They are the descendants of 'Imran b. Muhammad b. al- 
Hasan b. Yahya b. 'Abdallah b. Muhammad b. 'All b. Muhammad b. Yahya b. 
Ibrahim b. Yahya alJuti. The chief of their (house) at this time is Muhammad b. 


Muhammad b. Muhammad b. 'Imran. 

To these wicked statements and erroneous beliefs one may add the 
accusations that weak-minded jurists in the Maghrib leveled against the imam al- 
Mahdi, the head of the Almohad dynasty.— He was accused of deceit and 
insincerity when he insisted upon the true oneness of God and when he complained 
about the unjust people before his time. All his claims in this respect were declared 
to be false, even down to his descent from the family of Muhammad, which his 
Almohad followers accept. Deep down in their hearts it was envy of al-Mahdi's 
success that led the jurists to declare him a liar. In their self-deception, they thought 
that they could compete with him in religious scholarship, juridical decisions, and 
religion. He then turned out to be superior to them. His opinion was accepted, what 
he said was listened to, and he gained a following. They envied this success of his 
and tried to lessen his influence by attacking his dogmas and declaring his claims to 
be false. Furthermore, they were used to receive from al-Mahdi's enemies, the 
Lamtunah kings (the Almoravids), a respect and an honor they received from no one 
else, because of the simple religion (of the Almoravids). Under the Lamtunah 
dynasty, religious scholars held a position of respect and were appointed to the 
council, everybody according to his influence among his people in his respective 
village. The scholars, therefore, became partisans (of the Almoravids) and enemies 
of their enemies. They tried to take revenge on al-Mahdi for his opposition to them, 
his censure of them, and his struggle against them. This was the result of their 
partisanship for the Lamtunah and their bias in favor of the Lamtunah dynasty. Al- 
Mahdi's position was different from theirs. He did not share their beliefs. What else 
could be expected of a man who criticized the attitude of the ruling dynasty as he 
did and was opposed in his efforts by its jurists? He called his people to a holy war 
against them. He uprooted the dynasty and turned it upside down, despite its great 
strength, its tremendous power, and the strong force of its allies and its militia. 
Followers of his killed in the struggle were innumerable. They had sworn allegiance 
to him until death. They had protected him from death with their own lives. They 
had sought nearness to God by sacrificing themselves for the victory of the Mahdi's 
cause as partisans of the enterprise that eventually gained the upper hand and 

replaced the dynasties on both shores.— (Al-Mahdi himself) remained always 
frugal, retiring, patient in tribulation, and very little concerned with the world to the 
last; he died without fortune or worldly possessions. He did not even have children, 
as everybody desires but as one often is deceived in desiring. I should like to know 
what he could have hoped to obtain by this way of life were it not (to look upon) the 
face of God, for he did not acquire worldly fortune of any kind during his lifetime. 
Moreover, if his intention had not been good, he would not have been successful, 
and his propaganda would not have spread. "This is how God formerly proceeded 
with His servants.— 

The (jurists') disavowal of (al-Mahdi's) descent from Muhammad's family is 
not backed up by any proof. Were it established that he himself claimed such 
descent, his claim could not be disproved, because people are to be believed 

regarding the descent they claim for themselves. — It might be said that leadership 
over a people is vested only in men of their own skin. This is correct, as will be 

mentioned in the first— chapter of this book. But— al-Mahdi exercised leadership 
over all the Masmudah. They agreed to follow him and be guided by him and his 
Harghah group, and, eventually, God gave complete success to his propaganda. In 
this connection, it must be realized that al-Mahdi's power did not depend exclusively 
on his Fatimid descent, and the people did not follow him on that account (only). 
They followed him because of their Harghah-Masmudah group feeling and because 
of his share in that group feeling which was firmly rooted in him. (Al-Mahdi's) 


Fatimid descent had become obscured and knowledge of it had disappeared from 
among the people, although it had remained alive in him and his family through 
family tradition. His original (Fatimid) descent had, in a way, been sloughed off, 
and he had put on the skin of the Harghah-Masmudah and thus appeared as one of 
their skin. The fact that he was originally of Fatimid descent did not harm him with 
regard to his group feeling, since it was not known to the members of the group. 
Things like that happen frequently once one's original descent has become obscured. 

One might compare (with the above) the story of Arfajah and Jarir 

concerning the leadership of the Bajilah.— Arfajah had belonged to the Azd but 
had put on the skin of the Bajilah so successfully that he was able to wrangle with 
Jarir over the leadership before 'Umar, as has been reported. This example makes 
one understand what the truth is like. 

God is the guide to that which is correct. 

Lengthy discussion of these mistakes has taken us rather far from the 
purpose of this work. However, many competent persons and expert historians 
slipped in connection with such stories and assertions, and they stuck in their minds. 
Many weak-minded and uncritical persons learned these things from them, and even 
(the competent historians) themselves accepted them without critical investigation, 
and thus (strange stories) crept into their material. In consequence, historiography 
became nonsensical and confused, and its students fumbled around. Historiography 
came to be considered a domain of the common people. Therefore, today, the 
scholar in this field needs to know the principles of politics, the (true) nature of 
existent things, and the differences among nations, places, and periods with regard 
to ways of life, character qualities, customs, sects, schools, and everything else. He 
further needs a comprehensive knowledge of present conditions in all these respects. 
He must compare similarities or differences between the present and the past (or 
distantly located) conditions. He must know the causes of the similarities in certain 
cases and of the differences in others. He must be aware of the differing origins and 
beginnings of (different) dynasties and religious groups, as well as of the reasons 
and incentives that brought them into being and the circumstances and history of the 
persons who supported them. His goal must be to have complete knowledge of the 
reasons for every happening, and to be acquainted with the origin of every event. 
Then, he must check transmitted information with the basic principles he knows. If it 

fulfills their requirements, it is sound. Otherwise, the historian must consider it as 
spurious and dispense with it. It was for this reason alone that historiography was 
highly considered by the ancients, so much so that at-Tabari, al-Bukhari, and, before 
them, Ibn Ishaq and other Muslim religious scholars, chose to occupy themselves 
with it. Most scholars, however, forgot this, the (real) secret of historiography, with 
the result that it became a stupid occupation. Ordinary people as well as (scholars) 
who had no firm foundation of knowledge, considered it a simple matter to study 
and know history, to delve into it and sponge on it. Strays got into the flock, bits of 
shell were mixed with the nut, truth was adulterated with lies. 

"The final outcome of things is up to God."— 

A— hidden pitfall in historiography is disregard for the fact that conditions 
within the nations and races change with the change of periods and the passing of 
days. This is a sore affliction and is deeply hidden, becoming noticeable only after a 
long time, so that rarely do more than a few individuals become aware of it. 

This is as follows. The condition of the world and of nations, their customs 
and sects, does not persist in the same form or in a constant manner. There are 
differences according to days and periods, and changes from one condition to 
another. This is the case with individuals, times, and cities, and, in the same manner, 


it happens in connection with regions and districts, periods and dynasties. 

"This is how God formerly proceeded with His servants."— 

The old Persian nations, the Syrians, the Nabataeans, the Tubba's, the 
Israelites, and the Copts, all once existed. They all had their own particular 
institutions in respect of dynastic and territorial arrangements, their own politics, 
crafts, languages, technical terminologies, as well as their own ways of dealing with 
their fellow men and handling their cultural institutions. Their (historical) relics 
testify to that. They were succeeded by the later Persians, the Byzantines, and the 
Arabs. The old institutions changed and former customs were transformed, either 
into something very similar, or into something distinct and altogether different. 

Then, there came Islam with the Mudar dynasty. Again, all institutions underwent 
another change, and for the most part assumed the forms that are still familiar at the 
present time as the result of their transmission from one generation to the next. 

Then, the days of Arab rule were over. The early generations who had 
cemented Arab might and founded the realm of the Arabs, were gone. The power 
was seized by others, by non- Arabs like the Turks in the east, the Berbers in the 

west, and the European Christians— in the north. With their passi ng, entire 
nations ceased to exist, and institutions and customs changed. Their glory was 
forgotten, and their power no longer heeded. 

The widely accepted reason for changes in institutions and customs is the 
fact that the customs of each race depend on the customs of its ruler. As the proverb 

says: "The common people follow the religion of the ruler." 

When politically ambitious men overcome the ruling dynasty and seize 
power, they inevitably have recourse to the customs of their predecessors and adopt 
most of them. At the same time, they do not neglect the customs of their own race. 
This leads to some discrepancies between the customs of the (new) ruling dynasty 
and the customs of the old race. 

The new power, in turn, is succeeded by another dynasty, and customs are 
further mixed with those of the new dynasty. More discrepancies come in, and the 
discrepancy between the new dynasty and the first one is much greater (than that 
between the second and the first one). Gradual increase in the degree of discrepancy 
continues. The eventual result is an altogether distinct (set of customs and 
institutions). As long as there is this continued succession of different races to royal 
authority and government, discrepancies in customs and institutions will not cease to 
occur. 

Analogical reasoning and comparison are well known to human nature. They 
are not safe from error. Together with forgetfulness and negligence, they sway man 
from his purpose and divert him from his goal. Often, someone who has learned a 
good deal of past history remains unaware of the changes that conditions have 
undergone. Without a moment's hesitation, he applies his knowledge (of the present) 
to the historical information and measures the historical information by the things he 
has observed with his own eyes, although the difference between the two is great. 
Consequently, he falls into an abyss of error. 

This may be illustrated by what the historians report concerning the 

circumstances of Al-Hajjaj.l^ 1 They state that his father was a schoolteacher. At the 
present time, teaching is a craft and serves to make a living. It is a far cry from the 
pride of group feeling. Teachers are weak, indigent, and rootless. Many weak 
professional men and artisans who work for a living aspire to positions for which 
they are not fit but which they believe to be within their reach. They are misled by 
their desires, a rope which often slips from their hands and precipitates them into the 


abyss of ruinous perdition. They do not realize that what they desire is impossible 
for men like them to attain. They do not realize that they are professional men and 
artisans who work for a living. And they do not know that at the beginning of Islam 
and during the (Umayyad and 'Abbasid) dynasties, teaching was something 
different. Scholarship, in general, was not a craft in that period. Scholarship was 
transmitting statements that people had heard the Lawgiver (Muhammad) make. It 
was teaching religious matters-that-were not known, by wavy of oral transmission. 
Persons of noble descent and people who shared in the group feeling (of the ruling 
dynasty) and who directed the affairs of Islam were the ones who taught the Book of 
God and the Sunnah of the Prophet, (and they did so) as one transmits traditions, not 
as one gives professional instruction. (The Qur'an) was their Scripture, revealed to 
the Prophet in their midst. It constituted their guidance, and Islam was their religion, 
and for it they fought and died. It distinguished them from the other nations and 
ennobled them. They wished to teach it and make it understandable to the Muslims. 
They were not deterred by censure coming from pride, nor were they restrained by 
criticism coming from arrogance. This is attested by the fact that the Prophet sent the 
most important of the men around him with his embassies to the Arabs, in order to 
teach them the norms of Islam and the religious laws he brought. He sent his ten 
companions— and others after them on this mission. 

Then, Islam became firmly established and securely rooted. Far-off nations 
accepted Islam at the hands of the Muslims. With the passing of time, the situation 
of Islam changed. Many new laws were evolved from the (basic) texts as the result 
of numerous and unending developments. A fixed norm was required to keep (the 
process) free from error. Scholarship came to be a habit.— For its acquisition, 
study was required. Thus, scholarship developed into a craft and profession. This 

will be mentioned in the chapter on scholarship and instruction.— 

The men who controlled the group feeling now occupied themselves with 
directing the affairs of royal and governmental authority. The cultivation of 
scholarship was entrusted to others. Thus, scholarship became a profession that 
served to make a living. Men who lived in luxury and were in control of the 
government were too proud to do any teaching. Teaching came to be an occupation 
restricted to weak individuals. As a result, its practitioners came to be despised by 
the men who controlled the group feeling and the government. 

Now, Yusuf, the father of al-Hajjaj, was one of the lords and nobles of the 
Thaqif, well known for their share in the Arab group feeling and for their rivalry 
with the nobility of the Quraysh. Al-Hajjaj's teaching of the Qur'an was not what 
teaching of the Qur'an is at this time, namely, a profession that serves to make a 
living. His teaching was teaching as it was practiced at the beginning of Islam and 
as we have just described it. 

Another illustration of the same (kind of error) is the baseless conclusion 
critical readers of historical works draw when they hear about the position of judges 
and about the leadership in war and the command of armies that judges (formerly) 
exercised. Their misguided thinking leads them to aspire to similar positions. They 
think that the office of judge at the present time is as important as it was formerly. 
When they hear that the father of Ibn Abi 'Amir, who had complete control over 
Hisham, and that the father of Ibn 'Abbad, one of the rulers of Sevilla, were 

judges,— they assume that they were like present-day judges. They are not aware 
of the change in customs that has affected the office of judge, and which will be 
explained by us in the chapter on the office of judge in the first book. — Ibn Abi 
'Amir and Ibn 'Abbad belonged to Arab tribes that supported the Umayyad dynasty 
in Spain and represented the group feeling of the Umayyads, and it is known how 


important their positions were. The leadership and royal authority they attained did 
not derive from the rank of the judgeship as such, in the present-day sense that (the 
office of judge constitutes an administrative rank). In the ancient administrative 
organization, the office of judge was given by the dynasty and its clients to men who 
shared in the group feeling (of the dynasty), as is done in our age with the wazirate 
in the Maghrib. One has only to consider the fact that (in those days judges) 
accompanied the army on its summer campaigns and were entrusted with the most 
important affairs, such as are entrusted only to men who can command the group 
feeling needed for their execution. 

Hearing such things, some people are misled and get the wrong idea about 
conditions. At the present time, weakminded Spaniards are especially given to errors 
in this respect. The group feeling has been lost in their country for many years, as 
the result of the annihilation of the Arab dynasty in Spain and the emancipation of 
the Spaniards from the control of Berber group feeling. The Arab descent has been 
remembered, but the ability to gain power through group feeling and mutual co- 
operation has been lost. In fact, the (Spaniards) came to be like (passive) 

subjects,— without any feeling for the obligation of mutual support. They were 
enslaved by tyranny and had become fond of humiliation, thinking that their descent, 
together with their share in the ruling dynasty, was the source of power and 
authority. Therefore, among them, professional men and artisans are to be found 
pursuing power and authority and eager to obtain them. On the other hand, those 
who have experience with tribal conditions, group feeling, and dynasties along the 
western shore, and who know how superiority is achieved among nations and tribal 
groups, will rarely make mistakes or give erroneous interpretations in this respect. 

Another illustration of the same kind of error is the procedure historians 
follow when they mention the various dynasties and enumerate the rulers belonging 
to them. They mention the name of each ruler, his ancestors, his mother and father, 
his wives, his surname, his seal ring, his judge, doorkeeper, and wazir. In this 
respect, they blindly follow the tradition of the historians of the Umayyad and 
Abbasid dynasties, without being aware of the purpose of the historians of those 
times. (The historians of those times) wrote their histories for members of the ruling 
dynasty, whose children wanted to know the lives and circumstances of their 
ancestors, so that they might be able to follow in their steps and to do what they 

did,— even down to such details as obtaining servants from among those who were 

left over from the (previous) dynasty 1^2 anc j giving ranks and positions to the 
descendants of its servants and retainers. Judges, too, shared in the group feeling of 
the dynasty and enjoyed the same importance as wazirs, as we have just mentioned. 
Therefore, the historians of that time had to mention all these things. 

Later on, however, various distinct dynasties made their appearance. The 
time intervals became longer and longer. Historical interest now was concentrated 
on the rulers themselves and on the mutual relationships of the various dynasties in 
respect to power and predominance. (The problem now was) which nations could 
stand up (to the ruling dynasty) and which were too weak to do so. Therefore, it is 
pointless for an author of the present time to mention the sons and wives, the 
engraving on the seal ring, the surname, judge, wazir, and doorkeeper of an ancient 
dynasty, when he does not know the origin, descent, or circumstances of its 
members. Present-day authors mention all these things in mere blind imitation of 
former authors. They disregard the intentions of the former authors and forget to 
pay attention to historiography's purpose. 

An exception are the wazirs who were very influential and whose historical 
importance overshadowed that of the rulers. Such wazirs as, -for -instance,- al- 
Ijajjaj, — the Band Muhallab, the Barmecides, the Banu Sahl b. Nawbakht, Kaffir al- 


Ikhshidi, Ibn Abi 'Amir, and others should be mentioned. There is no objection to 
dealing with their lives or referring to their conditions for in importance they rank 
with the rulers. 

An additional note to end this discussion may find its place here. 

History refers to events that are peculiar to a particular age or race. 
Discussion of the general conditions of regions, races, and periods constitutes the 
historian's foundation. Most of his problems rest upon that foundation, and his 
historical information derives clarity from it. It forms the topic of special works, 
such as the Muruj adh-dhahab of al-Mas'udi. In this work, al-Mas'udi commented 
upon the conditions of nations and regions in the West and in the East during his 
period (which was) the three hundred and thirties [the nine hundred and forties]. He 
mentioned their sects and customs. He described the various countries, mountains, 
oceans, provinces, and dynasties. He distinguished between Arabic and non- Arabic 
groups. His book, thus, became the basic reference work for historians, their 
principal source for verifying historical information. 

Al-Mas'udi was succeeded by al-Bakri 1^3 who did something similar for 
routes and provinces, to the exclusion of everything else, because, in his time, not 
many transformations or great changes had occurred among the nations and races. 
However, at the present time-that is, at the end of the eighth [fourteenth] century-the 
situation in the Maghrib, as we can observe, has taken a turn and changed entirely. 
The Berbers, the original population of the Maghrib, have been replaced by an 
influx of Arabs, (that began in) the fifth [eleventh] century. The Arabs outnumbered 
and overpowered the Berbers, stripped them of most of their lands, and (also) 
obtained a share of those that remained in their possession. This was the situation 
until, in the middle of the eighth [fourteenth] century, civilization both in the East 
and the West was visited by a destructive plague which devastated nations and 

caused populations to vanish.l^ it swallowed up many of the good things of 
civilization and wiped them out. It overtook the dynasties at the time of their 
senility, when they had reached the limit of their duration. It lessened their power 
and curtailed their influence. It weakened their authority. Their situation approached 
the point of annihilation and dissolution. Civilization decreased with the decrease of 
mankind. Cities and buildings were laid waste, roads and way signs were 
obliterated, settlements and mansions became empty, dynasties and tribes grew 
weak. The entire inhabited world changed. The East, it seems, was similarly visited, 
though in accordance with and in proportion to (the East's more affluent) 
civilization. It was as if the voice of existence in the world had called out for 
oblivion and restriction, and the world had responded to its call. God inherits the 
earth and whomever is upon it. 

When there is a general change of conditions, it is as if the entire creation 
had changed and the whole world been altered, as if it were a new and repeated 
creation, a world brought into existence anew. Therefore, there is need at this time 
that someone should systematically set down the situation of the world among all 
regions and races, as well as the customs and sectarian beliefs that have changed for 
their adherents, doing for this age what al-Mas'udi did for his. This should be a 
model for future historians to follow. In this book of mine, I shall discuss as much 
of that as will be possible for me here in the Maghrib. I shall do so either explicitly 
or implicitly in connection with the history of the Maghrib, in conformity with my 
intention to restrict myself in this work to the Maghrib, the circumstances of its 
races and nations, and its subjects and dynasties, to the exclusion of any other 

region.!^ (This restriction is necessitated) by my lack of knowledge of conditions 
in the East and among its nations, and by the fact that secondhand information 
would not give the essential facts I am after. Al-Mas'udi's extensive travels in 


various countries enabled him to give a complete picture, as he mentioned in his 
work. Nevertheless, his discussion of conditions in the Maghrib is incomplete. "And 

He knows more than any scholar." 1Z6 q oc j j s the ultimate repository of (all) 
knowledge. Man is weak and deficient. Admission (of one's ignorance) is a specific 
(religious) duty. He whom God helps, finds his way (made) easy and his efforts and 
quests successful. We seek God's help for the goal to which we aspire in this work. 
God gives guidance and help. He may be trusted. 

It remains for us to explain the method of transcribing non- Arabic sounds 
whenever they occur in this book of ours. 

It should be known that the letters (sounds) 0 f speech, as will be 

explained later on,— are modifications of sounds that come from the larynx. These 
modifications result from the fact that the sounds are broken up in contact with the 
uvula and the sides of the tongue in the throat, against the palate or the teeth, and 
also through contact with the lips. The sound is modified by the different ways in 
which such contact takes place. As a result, the letters (sounds) sound distinct. Their 
combination constitutes the word that expresses what is in the mind. 

Not — all nations have the same letters (sounds) in their speech. One nation 
has letters (sounds) different from those of another. The letters (sounds) of the 
Arabs are twentyeight, as is known. The Hebrews are found to have letters (sounds) 
that are not in our language. In our language, in turn, there are letters sounds) that 
are not in theirs. The same applies to the European Christians, the Turks, the 
Berbers, and other non- Arabs. 

In order to express their audible letters (sounds), literate Arabs — chose to 
use conventional letters written individually separate, such as ', b, j, r, t, and so forth 
through all the twenty-eight letters. When they come upon a letter (sound) for which 
there is no corresponding letter (sound) in their language, it is not indicated in 
writing and not clearly expressed. Scribes sometimes express it by means of the 
letter which is closest to it in our language, the one either preceding or following 

it.— This is not a satisfactory way of indicating a letter (sound) but a complete 
replacement of it. 

Our book contains the history of the Berbers and other non- Arabs. In their 
names and in some of their words, we came across letters (sounds) that did not 
correspond with our written language and conventional orthography. Therefore, we 
were forced to indicate such sounds (by special signs). As we said, we did not find it 
satisfactory to use the letters closest to them, because in our opinion this is not a 
satisfactory indication. In my book, therefore, I have chosen to write such non- 
Arabic letters (sounds) in such a way as to indicate the two letters (sounds) closest 
to it, so that the reader may be able to pronounce it somewhere in the middle 
between the sounds represented by the two letters and thus reproduce it correcdy. 

I derived this idea from the way the Qur'an scholars write sounds that are not 
sharply defined, such as occur, for instance, in as-sirat according to Khalaf's 
reading.— The s is to be pronounced somehow between s and z. In this case, they 
spell the word with s and "write a z into it.— thus - indicate a pronunciation 
somewhere in the middle between the two sounds.— 

In the same way, I have indicated every letter (sound) that is to be 
pronounced somehow in the middle between two of our letters (sounds). The Berber 
k, for instance, which is pronounced midway between our clear k and j (g) or q, as, 
for instance, in the name Buluggin, is spelled by me with a k with the addition of 

one dot- from the j -below, or one dot or two-from the q-on top of it.— This 


indicates that the sound is to be pronounced midway between k and j (g) or q. This 
sound occurs most frequently in the Berber language. In the other cases, I have 
spelled each letter (sound) that is to be pronounced midway between two letters 
(sounds) of our language, with a similar combination of two letters. The reader will 
thus know that it is an intermediate sound and pronounce it accordingly. In this way, 
we have indicated it satisfactorily. Had we spelled it by using only one letter (sound) 
adjacent to it on either side,^ 2 - we would have changed its proper pronunciation to 
the pronunciation of the particular letter (sound) in our own language (which we 
might have used), and we would have altered the way people speak. This should be 
known. 

God gives success. 


1 Cf. Issawi, pp. 26 f., and J. Sauvaget, Historiens arabes (Paris, 1946), pp. 
138-42. 

2 "Personality criticism" ( al jarh wa-t-ta'dil ) is concerned with investigating the 
reliability or unreliability of the transmitters of traditions. Ibn Khaldun often 
has occasion to refer to it; see, for instance, p. 76 and 2:16off., 447 ff., below. 

2a Cf. n. 379 to Ch. i, below. 

3 Cf. al-Mas'udi, Muruj adh-dhahab, II, 425 ff. The story goes back ultimately 
to the snake (dragon) that frightened the workmen who built Alexandria. Cf. 
Pseudo-Callisthenes, Historia Alexandri Magni, ed. Kroll (Berlin, 1926), p. 
32. 

4 Gharar "risk" is a legal term, used mainly in connection with commercial 
matters. In this context it implies unlawful gambling. 

5 The "vital spirit" which, according to Galenic and Muslim medicine, was 
believed to originate in the left cavity of the heart. See also pp. 210, 329, and 
2:136, 374, below. 

6 Mas'uq may refer to death by lightning, but also includes other kinds of 
inexplicable sudden death. Cf. Lisan al-Arab, XII, 66. 

7 Cf. al-Mas'udi, Muruj adh-dhahab, IV, 94. The story of the Statue of the 
Starling was mentioned before al-Mas'i di by Ibn Khurradadhbih, Kitdb al- 
Masalik wa-l-mamalik, tr. M. J. de Goeje (Bibliotheca Geographorum 
Arabicorum, No. 6) (Leiden, 1889), p. 88. Many other geographers refer to it; 
cf. J. Marquart, Osteuropaische and ostasiatische Streifzage (Leipzig, 1903), 
pp. 260 ff.; and, more recently, M. J. Deny, "La Legende de l'eau des 
sauterelles et de l'oiseau qui detruit ces insectes," Journal asiatique, CCU 
(1923), 325. Marquart sought the origin of the story in a popular etymology 
for the Capitol: Campidoglio, campo d'oglio "olive oil field." 

8 Al-Bakri s Masalik contains a brief reference to the "Copper City." Cf. MS. 
Nuru Osmaniye, 3034, fol. 186a, Laleli, 2144, fol. 58a. This reference does 
not appear in W. M. de Slane, Description de I'Afrique septentrionale (2d ed.; 
Algiers, 1913). None of the available texts says anything about a Gate City," 
A village called Dhat al-abwab, which, however, is different from the one 
mentioned here, is referred to by al-Bakri in Mu' jam ma sta'iam, p. 218. Cf. 
also below, 2:245. 

9 Cf. 2:237 f., below. 

10 Ibn Khaldun refers to Muruj adh-dhahab, IV, 95. However, he adds some 
details to al-Mas'udi's very brief statement, from his own knowledge of the 
famous story. An earlier contemporary of al-Mas'udi gives it in considerable 
detail: Ibn al Faqih, Kitab al-buldan (Bibliotheca Geographorum Arabicorum, 
No. 5) (Leiden, 1885), pp. 71 (n.g), 88 ff., quoted by Yaqut, Mujam al- 
buldan, ed. Wustenfeld, IV, 455 ff, and other geographers. In the eleventh 
century, the theologian al-Khatib al- Baghdadi studied it in monograph form 
under the title of "The Story of the Bronze City and the Leaden Cupola." Cf. 
Yusuf al-'Ashsh, al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (Damascus, 1945), p.109. Cf. also G. 



Ferrand in Journal asiatique, CCVII (1925, 61 ff. Through its inclusion in 
The Arabian Nights, the story has become familiar to Western readers. 

Instead of "Copper City," the city is referred to as "Bronze City" by al- 
Mas'udi and elsewhere. The word "bronze" ( sufr ) is at times wrongly 
translated as "brass." Cf. M. Aga-Oglu, "A Brief Note on the Islamic 
Terminology for Bronze and Brass," Journal of the American Oriental 
Society, LXIV (1944), 218-32. The vacillation between "Bronze City" and 
"Copper City" is due to the fact that the Arabic words for bronze and copper 
were often used interchangeably without regard to their precise meaning. Cf. 
G. Levi Della Vida, "The 'Bronze Era' in Muslim Spain," Journal of the 
American Oriental Society, LXIII (1943), 183 (n. 7). 

11 The great general (A.D. 640-716/17) who completed the conquest of the 
Muslim West. Cf. E. Levi-Provencal in El, s.v. "Musa b. Nulair." 

12 The same argument occurs above, pp. 24 and 27. 

13 Cf. Issawi, pp. 34 f. 

14 Referring to the injunctions of the religious law. 

For this paragraph, one should compare what Ibn Khaldun says in 'Ibar, II, 
116: "In connection with happenings that can be referred to sensual 
perception, the information transmitted by a single informant (khahar al- 
wahid) is sufficient, if its soundness appears probable." 

15 Cf. R. A. Nicholson, Translations of Eastern Poetry and Prose, pp. 179 f. 

16 Cf. Issawi, pp. 36 f. 

17 "Conventional" is used here in the sense of the more common "traditional." 

18 Cf. 3:368, below. 

19 In later Muslim scholarship, it was considered disrespectful to suggest that 
earlier scholars knew less than oneself or than other, more recent men. Cf., for 
instance, F. Rosenthal, "Al-Asturlabi and as-Samaw'al on Scientific 
Progress," Osiris, IX (1950, 563. 

20 See 3:114 ff., below, where 'Umar's alleged action and al-Ma'mun's 
translating activities are discussed again. 

21 Qur'an 17.85 (87). 

22 Cf. p. lxxv, above, and 2:417, below. 

23 Cf., for instance, al-Amidi, al-Ihkdm fi usul al-afkdm (Cairo, 1914), I, 16 f. 
Ibn Khaldun was well acquainted with this author's works. 

24 Cf. also 2:295, below. 

25 Cf. Muruj adhdhahab, II, 169 ff. Mobedh (magupat) is the title of the 
Zoroastrian priest. Mobedhan actually is the Persian plural of the word. Cf. 
also 2:104 f., below. 

In an abbreviated form, the speech is quoted as made by 'Abdallah b. Tahir 
(cf. 2:139, below), in Ibn Abi Hajalah at-Tilimsani, Sukkarddn as 
(Cairo, 1317/1899, in the margin of al-'Amili, Mikhldh), p. 86. 

26 Imarah, from the same root as 'umran, and practically identical with it. Cf. al- 
Mubashshir b. Fatik, Mukhtar al -hikam, No. 3 of the sayings of Seth: "If a 
ruler thinks that he can amass property through injustice, he is wrong, for 



property can be amassed only through cultivation of the soil ('imarat al-arl)." 
Cf. the Spanish translation published by H. Knust, Mittheilungen aus dem 
Eskurial, p. 82. 

27 Cf. al-Mas'udi, Muruj adh-dhahab, II, 210. Anosharwan is the celebrated 
Sassanian ruler Khosraw I, A.D. 531-579. A shortened form of the saying is 
quoted anonymously by Ibn Qutaybah, ' Gyun al-akhbar (Cairo, 1343- 

49/1925'30), I, 9. A similarly shortened form is ascribed to 'Ali in a marginal 
note in one of the MSS of the Secretum Secretorum ; cf. Badawi s edition 
(cited below, n. 29), p. 128 (n. 1). 

28 C and D: al-kulliyat. B: al-kalimat "words." 

29 The pseudo-Aristotelian Politics, which Ibn Khaldun also quotes below, p. 

235 and 2:48, is better known as Sirr al-asrar "Secretum Secretorum." The 
work is supposed to have been translated from the Greek by Yahya b. al- 
Bitriq; cf. GAL, I, 203; 2d ed., 1, 221 f.; Suppl., I, 364. It had even greater 
success in European languages than in Arabic. 

The Arabic text has recently been published by Abd-ar-Rahman Badawi, 
Fontes Graecae doctrinarum politicarum Islamicarum (Cairo, 1954), I, 65- 
171. A modern English translation of the Arabic was prepared by IsmaiL 'Ali 
and A. S. Fulton, and published in Vol. V of the works of Roger Bacon, ed. 

R. Steele (Oxford, 1920). Cf. M. Plessner, Orientalistische Literaturzeitung, 
XXVIII (1925), 912 ff. An edition and French translation were prepared by P. 
Sbath but have remained unpublished. Cf. P. Sbath, Al-Frhris (Cairo, 1938), 

1, 9 (n. 4). 

The passage quoted appears at the end of the third chapter dealing with 
justice. Cf. pp. 126-28 of Badawi's ed., and Roger Bacon, ed. cit., V, 226; cf. 
also pp. Ell f. and 126. Cf., further, M. Steinschneider, "Die arabischen 
Ubersetzungen aus dem Griechischen," in Zwolftes Beiheft zum Centralblatt 
fur Bibliothekswesen (Eeipzig, 1893), p. 82. A fifteenth-century English 
rendering may be found in R. Steele, Three Prose Versions of the Secreta 
Secretorum (Early English Text Society, Extra Series No. 74) (London, 1898), 
p. 207. 

Among other Arabic authors who quote this passage, mention may be made 
of Ibn Juljul [tenth century] (cf. Badawi, op. cit., p. 37 of the introd.), and al- 
Mubashshir b. Fatik [eleventh century], Mukhtar al-hikam, at the end of the 
chapter on Aristotle. Ibn Juljul, in turn, was quoted by Ibn Abi Ulaybi'ah, 
'Uyun al-anba', ed. Muller, I, 66 f. Ibn Abi Usaybi'ah shows the eight 
sentences inscribed along the sides of an octagon. Cf. also R. Blachere's 
translation of Sa'id al-Andalusi, Kitab Tabaqat al-umam (Paris, 1935), p. 68. 
There are quite a few minor variations in the text as it appears in the various 
sources. Cf. now Wad Sayyid's edition of Ibn Juljul, Les Generations des 
medecins et des sages (Cairo, 1955), p. 26. 

The MSS of the Muqaddimah usually leave an empty space for insertion of 
the circle in which the saying is to be inscribed. The drawing is executed in B 
and C. The artistically executed drawing of an inscribed octagon reproduced 
here comes from an Istanbul MS of the Secretum, Reis el-kuttap (Asir 1), 
1002, fol. 121b. (Cf. Frontispiece, Vol. 2.) 

30 Ma’luf "familiar" may here possibly mean "harmonious." Arabic ta'lif 
translates Greek armonia. Cf., for instance, P. Kraus and R. Walzer, Galeni 
Compendium Timaei Platonis (Corpus Platonicum Medii Aevi, Plato Arabus 
i) (London, 1951), p. 106. 



31 Cf. pp. 313 ff., below. 

32 Abdallah b. al-Muqaffa', d. 142 [769/60], Cf. GAL, I, 151 f.; Suppl., I, 233 ff. 
Cf. also below, 3:393. 

33 Muhammad b. al-Walid, ca. 451 to 520 or 525 [1059 to 1126 or 1131]. Cf. 
GAL, I, 459; Suppl., I, 829 f. Cf. also above, p. lxxxv. 

34 The wazir of Khosraw I Anosharwan who appears in Arabic literature and is 
the chief representative of Persian wisdom. 

35 Ibn Khaldun here uses two proverbial expressions for truthful information. 
They are: "Juhaynah has the right information," and "He gave me the true age 
of his camel." 

36 Cf. Qur'an 24.35 (35). 

37 Cf. R. A. Nicholson, Translations of Eastern Poetry and Prose, pp. 180 f. 

38 Cf. 2:411 ff., below. 

39 Arabic uses the same word (waby) for Prophetical "inspiration" and for what 
we would translate in this context as "instinct." The "inspiration" of bees is 
mentioned in Qur'an 16.68 (70). 

40 Qur'an 20.50 (52). 

41 Cf. Issawi, p. 26. 

42 Cf. above, p. lxxxi, and below, p. 249. 



FIRST PREFATORY DISCUSSION 


HUMAN- SOCIAL ORGANIZATION is something necessary. The 

philosophers expressed this fact by saying: "Man is 'political' by nature."^ That is, 
he cannot do without the social organization for which the philosophers use the 
technical term "town" (polis). 

This is what civilization means. (The necessary character of human social 
organization or civilization) is explained by the fact that God created and fashioned 

man in a form that can live and subsist only with the help of food. He guided man to 
a natural desire for food and instilled in him the power that enables him to obtain it. 

However, the power of the individual human being is not sufficient for him 
to obtain (the food) he needs, and does not provide him with as much food as he 
requires to live. Even if we assume an absolute minimum of food-that is, food 
enough for one day, (a little) wheat, for instance-that amount of food could be 
obtained only after much preparation such as grinding, kneading, and baking. Each 
of these three operations requires utensils and tools that can be provided only with 
the help of several crafts, such as the crafts of the blacksmith, the carpenter, and the 
potter. Assuming that a man could eat unprepared grain, an even greater number of 
operations would be necessary in order to obtain the grain: sowing and reaping, and 
threshing to separate it from the husks of the ear. Each of these operations requires a 
number of tools and many more crafts than those just mentioned. It is beyond the 
power of one man alone to do all that, or (even) part of it, by himself. Thus, he 
cannot do without a combination of many powers from among his fellow beings, if 
he is to obtain food for himself and for them. Through cooperation, the needs of a 
number of persons, many times greater than their own (number), can be satisfied. 

Likewise, each individual needs the help of his fellow beings for his defense, 
as well. When God fashioned the natures of all living beings and divided the various 
powers among them, many dumb animals were given more perfect powers than God 
gave to man. The power of a horse, for instance, is much greater than the power of 
man, and so is the power of a donkey or an ox. The power of a lion or an elephant is 
many times greater than the power of (man). 

Aggressiveness is natural in living beings. Therefore, God gave each of them 
a special limb for defense against aggression. To man, instead, He gave the ability to 
think, and the hand. With the help of the ability to think, the hand is able to prepare 
the ground for the crafts. The crafts, in turn, procure for man the instruments that 
serve him instead of limbs, which other animals possess for their defense. Lances, 
for instance, take the place of horns for goring, swords the place of claws to inflict 
wounds, shields the place of thick skins, and so on. There are other such things. 

They were all mentioned by Galen in De usu partium A 

The power of one individual human being cannot withstand the power of any 
one dumb animal, especially not the power of the predatory animals. Man is 
generally unable to defend himself against them by himself. Nor is his (unaided) 
power sufficient to make use of the existing instruments of defense, because there 
are so many of them and they require so many crafts and (additional) things. It is 
absolutely necessary for man to have the co-operation of his fellow men. As long as 
there is no such co-operation, he cannot obtain any food or nourishment, and life 
cannot materialize for him, because God fashioned him so that he must have food if 
he is to live. Nor, lacking weapons, can he defend himself. Thus, he falls prey to 
animals and dies much before his time. Under such circumstances, the human 


species would vanish. When, however, mutual co-operation exists, man obtains food 
for his nourishment and weapons for his defense. God's wise plan that man(kind) 
should subsist and the human species be preserved will be fulfilled. 

Consequently, social organization is necessary to the human species. Without 
it, the existence of human beings would be incomplete. God's desire to settle the 

world with human beings and to leave them as His representatives on earth- would 
not materialize. This is the meaning of civilization, the object of the science under 
discussion. 

The afore-mentioned remarks have been in the nature of establishing the 
existence of the object in (this) particular field. A scholar in a particular discipline is 
not obliged to do this, since it is accepted in logic that a scholar in a particular 
science does not have to establish the existence of the object in that science. - On the 
other hand, logicians do not consider it forbidden to do so. Thus, it is a voluntary 
contribution. 

God, in His grace, gives success. 

When- mankind has achieved social organization, as we have stated, and 
when civilization in the world has thus become a fact, people need someone to 
exercise a restraining influence and keep them apart, for aggressiveness and 
injustice are in the animal nature of man. The weapons made for the defense of 
human beings against the aggressiveness of dumb animals do not suffice against the 
aggressiveness of man to man, because all of them possess those weapons. Thus, 
something else is needed for defense against the aggressiveness of human beings 
toward each other. It could not come from outside, because all the other animals fall 
short of human perceptions and inspiration. The person who exercises a restraining 
influence, therefore, must be one of themselves. He must dominate them and have 
power and authority over them, so that no one of them will be able to attack another. 
This is the meaning of royal authority. 

It has thus become clear that royal authority is a natural quality of man 
which is absolutely necessary to mankind. The philosophers mention that it also 

exists among certain dumb animals, such as the bees and the locusts- One discerns 
among them the existence of authority and obedience to a leader. They follow the 
one of them who is distinguished as their leader by his natural characteristics and 
body. However, outside of human beings, these things exist as the result of natural 
disposition and divine guidance, and not as the result of an ability to think or to 

administrate. "He gave everything its natural characteristics, and then guided it."- 

The philosophers go further. They attempt to give logical proof of the 
existence of prophecy and to show that prophecy is a natural quality of man. In this 
connection, they carry the argument to its ultimate consequences and' say that 
human beings absolutely require some authority to exercise a restraining influence. 
They go on to say that such restraining influence exists through the religious law 
(that has been) ordained by God and revealed to mankind by a human being. (This 
human being) is distinguished from the rest of mankind by special qualities of 
divine guidance that God gave him, in order that he might find the others submissive 
to him and ready to accept what he says. Eventually, the existence of a (restraining) 
authority among them and over them becomes a fact that is accepted without the 
slightest disapproval or dissent. 

This proposition of the philosophers is not logical, as one can see. Existence 
and human life can materialize without (the existence of prophecy) through 
injunctions a person in authority may devise on his own or with the help of a group 
feeling that enables him to force the others to follow him wherever he wants to go. 
People who have a (divinely revealed) book and who follow the prophets are few in 


number in comparison with (all) the Magians- who have no (divinely revealed) 
book. The latter constitute the majority of the world's inhabitants. Still, they (too) 
have possessed dynasties and monuments, not to mention life itself. They still 
possess these things at this time in the intemperate zones to the north and the south. 
This is in contrast— with human life in the state of anarchy, with no one to exercise 
a restraining influence. That would be impossible. 

This shows that (the philosophers) are wrong when they assume that 
prophecy exists by necessity. The existence of prophecy is not required by logic. Its 
(necessary character) is indicated by the religious law, as was the belief of the early 
Muslims. 

God gives success and guidance. 


SECOND PREFATORY DISCUSSION 


The parts of the earth where civilization is found. Some 
information about oceans, rivers, and zones.— 


IN 12 THE BOOKS of philosophers who speculated about the condition of the 
world, it has been explained that the earth has a spherical shape and is enveloped by the 

element of water. It may be compared to a grape floating upon water. 1^ 

The water withdrew from certain parts of (the earth), because God wanted to create 
living beings upon it and settle it with the human species that rules as (God's) 

representative over all other beings.— One might from this get the impression that the 
water is below the earth. This is not correct. The natural "below" of the earth is the core 
and middle of its sphere, the center to which everything is attracted by its gravity. All the 
sides of the earth beyond that and the water surrounding the earth are "above." When some 
part of the earth is said to be "below," it is said to be so with reference to some other 
region (of the earth). 

The part of the earth from which the water has withdrawn is one -half the surface of 
the sphere of the earth. It has a circular form and is surrounded on all sides by the element 
of water which forms a sea called "the Surrounding Sea" (al-Bahr al-Muhit). It is also 
called lablayah,— with thickening of the second /, or oceanos.— Both are non- Arabic 
words. It is also called "the Green Sea" and "the Black Sea." 

The part of the earth that is free from water (and thus suitable) for human 
civilization has more waste and empty areas than cultivated (habitable) areas. The empty 
area in the south is larger than that in the north. The cultivated part of the earth extends 
more toward the north. In the shape of a circular plane it extends in the south to the 

equator and in the north to a circular — line, behind which there are mountains separating 
(the cultivated part of the earth) from the elemental water. Enclosed between (these 
mountains) is the Dam of Gog and Magog. These mountains extend toward the east. In the 
east and the west, they also reach the elemental water, at two sections (points) of the 
circular (line) that surrounds (the cultivated part of the earth). 

The part of the earth that is free from water is said to cover one -half or less of the 
sphere (of the earth). The cultivated part covers one-fourth of it. It is divided into seven 

zones. 1^ 

The equator divides the earth into two halves from west to east. It represents the 
length of the earth. It is the longest line on the sphere of (the earth), just as the ecliptic and 
the equinoctial line are the longest lines on the firmament. The ecliptic is divided into 360 
degrees. The geographical degree is twenty-five parasangs, the parasang being 12,000 
cubits or three miles, since one mile has 4,000 cubits. The cubit is twenty-four fingers, and 

the finger is six grains of barley placed closely together in one row.— The distance of the 
equinoctial line, parallel to the equator of the earth and dividing the firmament into two 
parts, is ninety degrees from each of the two poles. However, the cultivated area north of 

the equator is (only) sixty-four degrees.— The rest is empty and uncultivated because of 
the bitter cold and frost, exactly as the southern part is altogether empty because of the 
heat. We shall explain it all, if God wills. 


Information about the cultivated part and its boundaries and about the cities, towns, 
mountains, rivers, waste areas, and sandy deserts it contains, has been given by men such 

as Ptolemy in the Geography 21 and, after him, by the author of the Book of Roger. — 
These men divided the cultivated area into seven parts which they called the seven zones. 
The borders of the seven zones are imaginary. They extend from east to west. In width 

(latitudinal extension) they are identical, in length (longitudinal extension) different. The 
first zone is longer than the second. The same applies to the second zone, and so on. The 
seventh zone is the shortest. This is required by the circular shape that resulted from the 
withdrawal of the water from the sphere of the earth. 

According to these scholars, each of the seven zones is divided from west to east 
into ten contiguous sections. Information about general conditions and civilization is given 
for each section. 

(The geographers) mentioned that the Mediterranean which we all know branches 
off from the Surrounding Sea in the western part of the fourth zone. It begins at a narrow 
straits about twelve miles wide between Tangier and Tarifa, called the Street (of 
Gibraltar). It then extends eastward and opens out to a width of 600 miles. It terminates at 
the end of the fourth section of the fourth zone, a distance of 1,160 parasangs from its 
starting point. There, it is bordered by the coast of Syria. On the south, it is bordered by the 
coast of the Maghrib, beginning with Tangier at the Straits, then lfrigiyah, Barqah, and 
Alexandria. On the north, it is bordered by the coast of Constantinople, then Venice, 

Rome, France, and Spain, back to Tarifa at the Street (of Gibraltar) opposite Tangier. The 
Mediterranean is also called the Roman Sea or the Syrian Sea. It contains many populous 
islands. Some of them are large, such as Crete, Cyprus, Sicily, Majorca, and Sardinia.— 

In the north, they say, two other seas branch off from the Mediterranean through 
two straits. One of them is opposite Constantinople. It starts at the Mediterranean in a 
narrow straits, only an arrow- shot in width. It flows for a three days' run and touches 
Constantinople. Then, it attains a width of four miles. It flows in this channel for sixty 
miles, where it is known as the Straits of Constantinople. Through a mouth six miles wide, 
it then flows into the Black Sea, — and becomes a sea that, from there, turns eastward in its 

course. It passes the land of Heracleia (in Bithynia) — and ends at the country of the 
Khazars, 1,300 miles from its mouth. Along its two coasts live the Byzantine, the Turkish, 
the Bulgar (Burjin).— and the Russian nations. 

The second sea that branches off from the two straits of the Mediterranean is the 
Adriatic Sea (Gulf of Venice). It emerges from Byzantine territory at its northern limit. 
Then, from Sant' Angelo (de' Lombardi), its western boundary extends from the country of 
the Venetians to the territory of Aquileia, 1,100 miles from where it started. On its two 
shores live the Venetians, the Byzantines (Rum), and other nations. It is called the Gulf of 
Venice (Adriatic Sea). 

From the Surrounding Sea, they say, a large and wide sea flows on the east at 
thirteen degrees north of the equator. It flows a little toward the south, entering the first 
zone. Then it flows west within the first zone until it reaches the country of the 

Abyssinians and the Negroes (the Zanj)— and Bib al-Mandeb in the fifth section of (the 
first zone), 4,500 parasangs from its starting point. This sea is called the Chinese, Indian, 
or Abyssinian Sea (Indian Ocean). It is bordered on the south by the country of the 

Negroes (Zanj) and the country of Berbera which Imru'ul-Qays mentioned in his poem.— 
These "Berbers" do not belong to the Berbers who make up the tribes in the Maghrib. The 
sea is then bordered by the area of Mogadishu, Sufilah, and the land of al-Wigwiq,— and 
by other nations beyond which there is nothing but waste and empty areas. On the north, 
where it starts, it is bordered by China, then by Eastern and Western India (al-Hind and as- 
Sind), and then by the coast of the Yemen, that is, al-Ahqif, Zabid, and other cities. Where 


it ends, it is bordered by the country of the Negroes, and, beyond them, the Beja.22 

Two other seas, they say, branch off from the Indian Ocean. One of them branches 
off where the Indian Ocean ends, at Bib al- Mandeb. It starts out narrow, then flows 
widening toward the north and slightly to the west until it ends at the city of al-Qulzum in 
the fifth section of the second zone, 1,400 miles from its starting point. This is the Sea of 

al-Qulzum or Sea of Suez (Red Sea). From the Red Sea at Suez to Fustat 21 i s the 
distance of a three days' journey. The Red Sea is bordered on the east by the coast of the 

Yemen, the Hijiz, and Jiddah,— and then, where it ends, by Midyan (Madyan), Aila 

(Aylah), and Faran.— On the west, it is bordered by the coast of Upper Egypt, 'Aydhib, 
Suakin, and Zayla' (Zila'), and then, where it begins, by the country of the Beja. It ends at 
al-Qulzum. It (would) reach the Mediterranean at al-'Arish. The distance between (the Red 
Sea and the Mediterranean) is a six days' journey. Many rulers, both Muslim and pre- 
Islamic, have wanted to cut through the intervening territory (with a canal) but this has not 
been achieved. 

The second sea branching off from the Indian Ocean and called the Persian Gulf 
(the Green Gulf), branches off at the region between the west coast of India and al-Ahqaf 
in the Yemen. It flows toward the north and slightly to the west until it ends at al-Ubullah 
on the coast of al- Basrah in the sixth section of the second zone, 440 parasangs from its 
starting point. It is called the Persian Gulf (Persian Sea). It is bordered on the east by the 
coast of Western India, Mukrin, Kirmin, Firs, and al-Ubullah where it ends. On the west, it 
is bordered by the coast of al-Bahrayn, the Yamamah, Oman, ash-Shihr, and al-Ahgaf 
where it starts. Between the Persian Gulf and al-Qulzum lies the Arabian Peninsula, jutting 
out from the mainland into the sea. It is surrounded by the Indian Ocean to the south, by 
the Red Sea to the west, and by the Persian Gulf to the east. It adjoins the 'Iraq in the 
region between Syria and al- Basrah, where the distance between (Syria and the 'Iraq) is 
1,500 miles. (In the ’Iraq) are al-Kufah, al-Qidistyah, Baghdad, the Reception Hall of 

Khosraw (at Ctesiphon)— and al-Hirah. Beyond that live non- Arab nations such as the 
Turks, the Khazars, and others. The Arabian Peninsula comprises the Hijaz in the west, the 
Yamamah, al-Bahrayn, and Oman in the east, and in the south the Yemen along the coast 
of the Indian Ocean. 

In the cultivated area (of the earth), they say, there is another sea to the north in the 
land of the Daylam. This sea has no connection with the other seas. It is called the Sea of 
Jurjan and Tabaristan (Caspian Sea). Its length is 1,000 miles, and its width 600. To the 
west of it lies Azerbaijan and the Daylam territory; to the east of it the land of the Turks 
and Khuwirizm; to the south of it Tabaristan; and to the north of it the land of the Khazars 
and the Alans. 

These are all the famous seas mentioned by the geographers. 

They further say that in the cultivated part of (the earth), there are many rivers. The 
largest among them are four in number, namely, the Nile, the Euphrates, the Tigris, and the 
River of Balkh which is called Oxus (Jayhun). 

The Nile begins at a large mountain, sixteen degrees beyond the equator at the 
boundary of the fourth section of the first zone. This mountain is called the Mountain of 

the Qumr.— No higher mountain is known on earth. Many springs issue from the 
mountain, some of them flowing into one lake there, and some of them into another lake. 
From these two lakes, several rivers branch off, and all of them flow into a lake at the 
equator which is at the distance of a ten days' journey from the mountain. From that lake, 
two rivers issue. One of them flows due north, passing through the country of the Nubah 
and then through Egypt. Having traversed Egypt, it divides into many branches lying close 
to each other. Each of these is called a "channel." All flow into the Mediterranean at 
Alexandria. This river is called the Egyptian Nile. It is bordered by Upper Egypt on the 


east, and by the oases on the west. The other river turns westward, flowing due west until 

it flows into the Surrounding Sea. This river is the Sudanese Nile.— All the Negro nations 
live along its borders. 

The Euphrates begins in Armenia in the sixth section of the fifth zone. It flows 
south through Byzantine territory (Anatolia) past Malatya to Manbij, and then passes 
Siflin, ar-Raggah, and al-Kufah until it reaches the Marsh (alBatha') between al-Basrah 
and Wasit. From there it flows into the Indian Ocean. Many rivers flow into it along its 
course. Other rivers branch off from it and flow into the Tigris. 

The Tigris originates in a number of springs in the country of Khilat, which is also 
in Armenia. It passes on its course southward through Mosul, Azerbaijan, and Baghdad to 
Wasit. There, it divides into several channels, all of which flow into the Lake of al-Basrah 
and join the Persian Gulf. The Tigris flows east of the Euphrates. Many large rivers flow 
into it from all sides. The region between the Euphrates and the Tigris, where it is first 
formed, is the Jazirah of Mosul, facing Syria on both banks of the Euphrates, and facing 
Azerbaijan on both banks of the Tigris. 

The Oxus originates at Balkh, in the eighth section of the third zone, in a great 
number of springs there. Large rivers flow into it, as it follows a course from south to 
north. It flows through Khurasan, then past Khurasan to Khuwarizm in the eighth section 
of the fifth zone. It flows into Lake Aral (the Lake of Gurganj) which is situated at the foot 
[north?] of the city of (Gurganj). In length as in width, it extends the distance of one 

month's journey. The river of Farghanah and Tashkent (ash- Shash), 22. which comes from 
the territory of the Turks, flows into it. West of the Oxus lie Khurasan and Khuwarizm. 
East of it lie the cities of Bukhari, at-Tirmidh, and Samarkand. Beyond that are the country 

of the Turks, Farghanah, the Kharlukh,— and (other) non- Arab nations. 

(All) this was mentioned by Ptolemy in his work and by the Sharaf (al-Idrisi) in the 
Book of Roger. All the mountains, seas, and rivers to be found in the cultivated part of the 
earth are depicted on maps and exhaustively treated in geography. We do not have to go 
any further into it. It is too lengthy a subject, and our main concern is with the Maghrib, 
the home of the Berbers, and the Arab home countries in the East. 

God gives success. 


SUPPLEMENTARY NOTE 
TO THE SECOND PREFATORY DISCUSSION 


The northern quarter of the earth has more civilization 
than the southern quarter. The reason thereof. 


WE KNOW FROM OBSERVATION and from continuous tradition that the first 
and the second of the cultivated zones have less civilization than the other zones. The 
cultivated area in the first and second zones is interspersed with empty waste areas and 
sandy deserts and has the Indian Ocean to the east. The nations and populations of the first 
and second zones are not excessively numerous. The same applies to the cities and towns 
there. 

The third, fourth, and subsequent zones are just the opposite. Waste areas there are 
few. Sandy deserts also are few or non-existent. The nations and populations are 
tremendous. Cities and towns are exceedingly numerous. Civilization has its seat between 
the third and the sixth zones. The south is all emptiness. 

Many philosophers have mentioned that this is because of the excessive heat and 


slightness of the sun's deviation from the zenith in the south. Let us explain and prove this 
statement. The result will clarify the reason why civilization in the third and fourth zones 
is so highly developed and extends also to the fifth, <sixth,> and seventh zones. 

We say: When the south and north poles (of heaven) are upon the horizon, they 
constitute a large circle that divides the firmament into two parts. It is the largest circle (in 
it) and runs from west to east. It is called the equinoctial line. In astronomy, it has been 
explained in the proper place that the highest sphere moves from east to west in a daily 
motion by means of which it also forces the spheres enclosed by it to move. This motion is 
perceptible to the senses. It has also been explained that the stars in their spheres have a 
motion that is contrary to this motion and is, therefore, a motion from west to east. The 
periods of this movement differ according to the different speeds of the motions of the 
stars. 

Parallel to the courses of all these stars in their spheres, there runs a large circle 
which belongs to the highest sphere and divides it into two halves. This is the ecliptic 
(zodiac). It is divided into twelve "signs." As has been explained in the proper place, the 
equinoctial line intersects the ecliptic at two opposite points, namely, at the beginning of 
Aries and at the beginning of Libra. The equinoctial line divides the zodiac into two 
halves. One of them extends northward from the equinoctial line and includes the signs 
from the beginning of Aries to the end of Virgo. The other half extends southward from it 
and includes the signs from the beginning of Libra to the end of Pisces. 

When the two poles fall upon the horizon <which takes place in one particular 
region> among all the regions of the earth, a line is formed upon the surface of the earth 
that faces the equinoctial line and runs from west to east. This line is called the equator. 
According to astronomical observation, this line is believed to coincide with the beginning 
of the first of the seven zones. All civilization is to the north of it. 

The north pole gradually ascends on the horizon of the cultivated area (of the earth) 
until its elevation reaches sixtyfour degrees. Here, all civilization ends. This is the end of 
the seventh zone. When its elevation reaches ninety degrees on the horizon - that is the 
distance between the pole and the equinoctial' line-then it is at its zenith, and the 
equinoctial line is on the horizon. Six of the signs of the zodiac, the northern ones, remain 
above the horizon, and six, the southern ones, are below it. 

Civilization is impossible in the area between the sixtyfourth and the ninetieth 
degrees, for no admixture of heat and cold occurs there because of the great time interval 
between them. Generation (of anything), therefore, does not take place. 

The sun is at its zenith on the equator at the beginning of Aries and Libra. It then 
declines from its zenith down to the beginning of Cancer and Capricorn. Its greatest 
declination from the equinoctial line is twenty-four degrees. 

Now, when the north pole ascends on the horizon, the equinoctial line declines 
from the zenith in proportion to the elevation of the north pole, and the south pole 
descends correspondingly, as regards the three (distances constituting geographical 
latitude).— Scholars who calculate the (prayer) times call this the latitude of a place. When 
the equinoctial line declines from the zenith, the northern signs of the zodiac gradually rise 
above it, proportionately to its rise, until the beginning of Cancer is reached. Meanwhile, 
the southern signs of the zodiac correspondingly descend below the horizon until the 
beginning of Capricorn is reached, because of the inclination of the (two halves of the 
zodiac) upwards or downwards from the horizon of the equator, as we have stated. The 
northern horizon continues to rise, until its northern limit, which is the beginning of 
Cancer, is in the zenith. This is where the latitude is twenty-four degrees in the Hijaz and 
the territory adjacent. This is the declination from the equinoctial at the horizon of the 
equator at the beginning of Cancer. With the elevation of the north pole (Cancer) rises, 
until it attains the zenith. When the pole rises more than twenty-four degrees, the sun 


descends from the zenith and continues to do so until the elevation of the pole is sixty-four 
degrees, and the sun's descent from the zenith, as well as the depression of the south pole 
under the horizon, is the same distance. Then, generation (of anything) stops because of the 
excessive cold and frost and the long time without any heat. 

At and nearing its zenith, the sun sends its rays down upon the earth at right angles. 
In other positions, it sends them down at obtuse or acute angles. When the rays form right 
angles, the light is strong and spreads out over a wide area, in contrast to what happens in 
the case of obtuse and acute angles. Therefore, at and nearing its zenith, the heat is greater 
than in other positions, because the light (of the sun) is the reason for heat and calefaction. 
The sun reaches its zenith at the equator twice a year in two points of Aries and Libra. No 
declination (of the sun) goes very far. The heat hardly begins to become more temperate, 
when the sun has reached the limit of its declination at the beginning of Cancer or 
Capricorn and begins to rise again toward the zenith. The perpendicular rays then fall 
heavily upon the horizon there (in these regions) and hold steady for a long time, if not 
permanently. The air gets burning hot, even excessively so. The same is true whenever the 
sun reaches the zenith in the area between the equator and latitude twentyfour degrees, as 
it does twice a year. The rays exercise almost as much force upon the horizon there (at this 
latitude) as they do at the equator. The excessive heat causes a parching dryness in the air 
that prevents (any) generation. As the heat becomes more excessive, water and all kinds of 
moisture dry up, and (the power of) generation is destroyed in minerals, plants, and 
animals, because (all) generation depends on moisture. 

Now, when the beginning of Cancer declines from the zenith at the latitude of 
twenty- five degrees and beyond, the sun also declines from its zenith. The heat becomes 
temperate, or deviates only slightly from (being temperate). Then, generation can take 
place. This goes on until the cold becomes excessive, due to the lack of light and the 
obtuse angles of the rays of the sun. Then, (the power of) generation again decreases and is 
destroyed. However, the destruction caused by great heat is greater than that caused by 
great cold, because heat brings about desiccation faster than cold brings about freezing. 

Therefore, there is little civilization in the first and second zones. There is a 
medium degree of civilization in the third, fourth, and fifth zones, because the heat there is 
temperate owing to the decreased amount of light. There is a great deal of civilization in 
the sixth and seventh zones because of the decreased amount of heat there. At first, cold 
does not have the same destructive effect upon (the power of) generation as heat; it causes 
desiccation only when it becomes excessive and thus has dryness added. This is the case 
beyond the seventh zone. (All) this, then, is the reason why civilization is stronger and 
more abundant in the northern quarter. And God knows better! 

The — philosophers concluded from these facts that the region at the equator and 
beyond it (to the south) was empty. On the strength of observation and continuous 
tradition, it was argued against them that (to the contrary) it was cultivated. How would it 
be possible to prove this (contention)? It is obvious that the (philosophers) did not mean to 
deny entirely the existence of civilization there, but their argumentation led them to (the 
realization) that (the power of) generation must, to a large degree, be destroyed there 
because of the excessive heat. Consequently, civilization there would be either impossible, 
or only minimally possible. This is so. The region at the equator and beyond it (to the 
south), even if it has civilization as has been reported, has only a very little of it. 

Averroes — assumed that the equator is in a symmetrical position — and that what 
is beyond the equator to the south corresponds to what is beyond it to the north; 
consequently, as much of the south would be cultivated as of the north. His assumption is 
not impossible, so far as (the argument of) the destruction of the power of generation is 
concerned. However, as to the region south of the equator, it is made impossible by the fact 
that the element of water covers the face of the earth in the south, where the corresponding 
area in the north admits of generation. On account of the greater amount of water (in the 


south), Averroes' assumption of the symmetrical (position of the equator) thus turns out to 
be impossible. Everything else follows, since civilization progresses gradually and begins 
its gradual progress where it can exist, not where it cannot exist. 

The assumption that civilization cannot exist at the equator is contradicted by 
continuous tradition. And God knows better! 

After this discussion, we wish to draw a map of the earth,— as was done by the 
author of the Book of Roger. Then, we shall give a detailed description of the map. 

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE MAP— 


THIS DESCRIPTION is twofold. There is a detailed description and a general 
description. 

The detailed description consists of a discussion of each country, mountain, sea, 
and river of the cultivated part of the earth. This discussion will be found in the following 
section. 

The general description consists of a discussion of the division of the cultivated 
part of the earth into seven zones, their latitudinal (extension), and the length of their days. 
Such is the contents of this section. 

Let us begin to explain these things. We have mentioned before that the earth floats 

upon the elemental water like a grape.— God's plan for civilization and for the elemental 
generation of life resulted in making part of (the earth) free of water. 

The part that is free of water is said to constitute one-half the surface of the earth. 
The cultivated part is one -fourth of it. The rest is uncultivated. According to another 
opinion, the cultivated part is only one -sixth of it. The empty areas of the part which is 
free of water lie to the south and to the north. The cultivated area in between forms a 
continuum that stretches from west to east. There is no empty area between the cultivated 
part and the (Surrounding) Sea in these two directions. 

They further said: Across the cultivated part of the earth an imaginary line runs 
from west to east facing the equinoctial line (of the firmament) in regions where the two 
poles of the firmament are on the horizon. At this line civilization begins. It extends from 
there northwards. 

Ptolemy said: "As a matter of fact, civilization extends beyond that line to the 
south." He indicated the latitudinal extension, as will be mentioned 

Ishaq b. al-Hasan al-Khazini 4Z expresses the opinion that beyond the seventh zone 
(to the north) there is another civilization. He indicated its latitudinal extension, as we shall 


KEY TO THE MAP 


1 South 

2 West 

3 North 

4 East 

5 Empty beyond the equator because 
of the heat 


41 Mukrin 

42 Kirmin 

43 Firs 

44 al-Bahlus 

45 Azerbaijan 


6 Equator 


46 Desert 

7 Lamlam Country 


47 Khurasin 

8 Maghzawah (Maguzawa?) 

48 Khuwirizm 

9 Kanem 

[Country 

49 Eastern India 

10 Bornu 


50 Tashkent 

11 Gawgaw 


51 Soghd 

12 Zaghiy 


52 China 

13 at-Tijuwin 


53 Tughuzghuz 

14 Nubia 


54 Gascogne 

15 Abyssinia 


55 Brittany 

16 Ghanah 


56 Calabria 

17 Lamtah 


57 France 

18 as-Sus 


58 Venice 

19 Morocco 


59 Germany (Alaminiyah) 

20 Tangier 


60 Macedonia 

21 Sinhijah 


61 Bohemia 

22 Dar'ah 


62 Jathuliyah 

23 Ifriqiyah 


63 Jarmaniyah 

24 Fezzan 


64 al-Baylagin 

25 Jarid 


65 Armenia 

26 Kawir 


66 Tabaristan 

27 Desert of Berenice 


67 Alans 

28 Inner Oases 


68 Bashqirs 

29 Upper Egypt 


69 Bulgars 

30 Egypt 


70 Pechenegs 

31 Beja 


71 Stinking Land 

32 Hijiz 


72 Waste Country 

33 Syria 


73 Magog 

34 Yemen 


74 Ghuzz 

35 Yamimah 


75 Tiirgish 

36 al-Basrah 


76 Adhkish 

37 'Iraq 


77 Khallukh 

38 ash-Shihr 


78 Gog 

39 Oman 


79 Kimik 

40 Western India 


80 Empty in the north because of the cold 



5 



mention. — Al-Khazini is one of the leading scholars in this craft (geography). 

* Further, the ancient philosophers divided the cultivated part of the earth in the 
north into seven zones by means of imaginary lines running from west to east. They 
maintain that these zones have different latitudinal extensions. This will be discussed in 
detail. 

The first zone runs along the equator, north of it. South of it, there is only the 
civilization to which reference was made by Ptolemy. Beyond that are waste regions and 
sandy deserts, up to the circle of water which is called the Surrounding Sea. To the north, 
the first zone is followed, successively, by the second through the seventh zones. (The 
seventh zone) constitutes the northern limit of civilization. Beyond it are only empty and 
waste regions, down to the Surrounding Sea as (in the south). However, the empty regions 
in the south are much larger than those in the north.* 

As to latitudes and length of days in the various zones, it should be known that the 
two poles of the firmament are upon the horizon at the equator in the west and the east. 

It should be known that, as was mentioned above, the philosophers divided the 
cultivated part of the earth into seven parts from south to north. These parts they called 
zones. The whole of the cultivated area is distributed over these zones. Each zone extends 
from west to east. 

The first zone runs from west to east with the equator as its southern border. 



Beyond it, there are only waste regions and sandy deserts, and civilization of a sort that, if 
it actually exists, is more like non-civilization. To the north, the first zone is followed, 
successively, by the second through the seventh zones. The seventh zone constitutes the 
northern limit of civilization. Beyond it (to the north) are only empty and waste regions 
until the Surrounding Sea is reached. The situation is the same here as it is beyond the 
first zone to the south. However, the empty areas in the north are much smaller than those 
in the south. 

The sun there is at the zenith. As we follow the cultivated part of the earth farther 
and farther north, the north pole ascends slightly, and the south pole descends 
correspondingly, (at the horizon). Furthermore, the sun moves a corresponding distance 
from (its zenith at) the equinoctial line. These three distances are equal to each other. Each 
of them is called geographical latitude. This is well known to the scholars who determine 
the (prayer) times. 

People hold different opinions as to the latitudinal extension (of the cultivated part 
of the earth) and as to the latitudinal extension (breadth) of the various zones. Ptolemy 
holds the opinion that the latitudinal extension of the entire cultivated part of the earth is 

77-*7 2 . The latitudinal extension of the cultivated part beyond the equator to the south is 
H° 48a tp US; ^0 latitudinal extension of the zones in the north is 66 1 / 2 . According to 

O A Ok O O 

him, the first zone extends to 16 ; the second to 20 ; the third to 27 ; the fourth to 
33 ; the fifth to 38 ; the sixth to 43 ; the seventh to 48 He then determined the degree 
on the firmament as having a length of 66^/3 miles, (were it to be) measured on the surface 

of the earth.— Thus, the first zone from south to north is 1,067 miles (wide); the second 
zone, 2,333 miles; the third zone, 2,790 miles; the fourth zone, 2,185 miles; the fifth zone, 
2,520 miles; the sixth zone, 2,840 miles, and the seventh zone, 3,150 miles. 

*The length of night and day differs in the various zones by reason of the 
declination of the sun from the equinoctial line and the elevation of the north pole above 
the horizon. This causes a difference in the arcs of day and night. 

The length of night and day dyers in the different zones by reason of the declination 
of the sun from the equinoctial line and the elevation of the north pole above the horizon. 
This causes a deference in the arcs of day and night. 

At the boundary of the first zone, the longest night-which occurs when the sun 
enters Capricorn-and the longest day which occurs when the sun enters Cancer-reach a 
maximum of thirteen hours. The same is the case at the boundary of the second zone in the 
north. The length of day there reaches its maximum of thirteen and one -half hours when 
the sun enters Cancer, the summer tropic. The longest night -when the sun enters 
Capricorn, the winter tropic is as long. For the shortest day and night, there thus remains 
the difference between thirteen and one-half and twenty-four, which is the combined 
number of hours of day and night, or one complete revolution of the firmament. The same 
is the case also at the boundary of the third zone in the north, where night and day reach a 
maximum length of fourteen hours; at the boundary of the fourth zone, where they reach a 
maximum length of fourteen and one-half hours; at the boundary of the fifth zone, where 
they reach a maximum length of fifteen hours; at the boundary of the sixth zone, where 
they reach a maximum length of fifteen and one -half hours; and at the boundary of the 
seventh zone, where they reach a maximum length of sixteen hours. There, civilization 
ends. The difference in the maximum length of night and day in the various zones, 
consequently, is an evenly distributed, gradual increase of half an hour in each, all the 
way from the first zone in the south to the last zone in the north. 

In connection with these zones, "geographical latitude" refers to the distance 
between the sun at its zenith in a given place and the equinoctial line where it is at the 


zenith on the equator. It likewise corresponds to the depression of the south pole below the 
horizon in that particular place, as well as to the elevation of the north pole. As was 

mentioned before,— these three distances are equal to each other. They are called 
" geographical latitude. " 

At the boundary of the first zone, the longest nightwhich occurs when the sun 
enters Capricorn - and the longest day-which occurs when the sun enters Cancer-reach, 
according to Ptolemy, a maximum of twelve and one -half hours; at the boundary of the 
second zone, a maximum of thirteen hours; at the boundary of the third zone, a maximum 
of thirteen and one-half hours; at the boundary of the fourth zone, a maximum of fourteen 
hours; at the boundary of the fifth zone, a maximum of one half-hour more; at the 
boundary of the sixth zone, a maximum of fifteen hours; and at the boundary of the 
seventh zone, a maximum of one half-hour more. For the shortest day and night, there thus 
remains the difference between the last figure and twenty-four, which is the combined 
number of hours of day and night, or one complete revolution of the firmament. The 
difference in the maximum length of night and day in the various zones, consequently, is 
an evenly distributed, gradual increase of half an hour in each, all the way from the first 
zone in the south to the last zone in the north.* 

Ishaq b. al-Hasan al-Khazini maintains that the latitudinal extension of civilization 
beyond the equator (to the south) is 16° 25', and the longest night and day there, thirteen 
hours. The latitudinal extension of the first zone and the length of day and night there are 

the same as beyond the equator (to the south). The second zone extends to 24°, — and the 
length of its (longest) day and night at its farthest point is thirteen and one -half hours. For 

the third zone, the figures are 30° and fourteen hours. For the fourth zone, they are 36° and 
fourteen and one-half hours. For the fifth zone, they are 41° and fifteen hours. For the 
sixth zone, they are 45° and fifteen and one-half hours. For the seventh zone, they are 
48 1 / 2 ° and sixteen hours. The latitudinal extension of civilization beyond the seventh zone 

(to the north) reaches from the boundary of the seventh zone to (latitude) 63°, and the 
length of the (longest) day and night to twenty hours. 

Other leading scholars in the discipline, apart from Ishaq al-Khazini, maintain that 
the latitudinal extension of the cultivated area beyond the equator (to the south) is 16° 27'. 
The first zone extends to 20° 15'; the second to 27° 13'; the third to 33° 20'; the fourth to 
38 1 / 2 °;— the fifth to 43°; the sixth to 47° 53'; or, according to another opinion, to 46° 50'; 
and the seventh to 51° 53'. Civilization beyond the seventh zone extends to 77°. 

In Abu Jafar al-Khazini,^ one of the leading scholars in the discipline, one also 
finds that the latitudinal extension of the first zone is from 1° to 20° 13'; of the second, to 
27° 13'; of the third, to 33° 39'; of the fourth, to 38° 23'; of the fifth, to 42° 58'; of the 
sixth, to 47° 2'; and of the seventh, to 60°45'.^ 

This is as much as I know about the different opinions concerning latitudinal 
extension and length of day and night in the zones and concerning their width as indicated 
in miles. 

God "created everything. Then, He determined it." — 

The geographers have subdivided each of the seven zones lengthwise from west to 
east in ten equal sections. They mention the countries, cities, mountains, and rivers of each 
section, and the traveling distances between them. 

We shall now briefly summarize the best-known countries, rivers, and seas of each 
section. Our model will be the data set forth in the Nuzhat al-mushtaq which al-'Alawi al- 
56 


Idrisi al-Hammudi composed for the Christian king of Sicily, Roger, the son of Roger. 
Al-Idrisi's family had given up its rule of Malaga, and he had setded at (Roger's) court in 
Sicily. He composed the book in the middle of the sixth [twelfth] century. He utilized 
many books by authors such as al-Mas'udi, Ibn Khurradadhbih, al-Hawgali, al-'Udhri, 

Ishaq al-Munajjim,^Z Ptolemy and others. 

We shall begin with the first zone and go on from there to the last one. 


The first zone 

The Eternal Islands (the Canaries) from which Ptolemy began the determination of 
geographical longitude, are in the west. They are not part of the land mass of the first zone. 
They lie in the Surrounding Sea. A number of islands constitute them. The largest and best 
known are three in number. They are said to be cultivated. 

We have heard ^ that European Christian ships reached them in the middle of this 
century, fought with the (inhabitants), plundered them, captured some of them, and sold 
some of the captives along the Moroccan coast where they came into the service of the 
ruler. After they had learned Arabic, they gave information about conditions on their 
island. They said that they tilled the soil with horns. Iron was lacking in their country. 

Their bread— was made of barley. Their animals were goats. They fought with stones, 
which they hurled backwards. Their worship consisted of prostrations before the rising 
sun. They knew no (revealed) religion and had not been reached by any missionary 
activity. 

These islands can be reached only by chance, and not intentionally by navigation. 
Navigation on the sea depends on the winds. It depends on knowledge of the directions the 
winds blow from and where they lead, and on following a straight course from the places 
that lie along the path of a particular wind. When the wind changes and it is known where 
a straight course along it will lead, the sails are set for it, and the ship thus sails according 

to nautical norms evolved by the mariners and sailors — who are in charge of sea voyages. 
The countries situated on the two shores of the Mediterranean are noted on a chart 
(sahifah) which indicates the true facts regarding them and gives their positions along the 
coast in the proper order. The various winds and their paths are likewise put down on the 

chart. This chart is called the "compass."— fit It is on this (compass) that (sailors) rely on 
their voyages. Nothing of the sort exists for the Surrounding Sea. Therefore, ships do not 
enter it, because, were they to lose sight of shore, they would hardly be able to find their 
way back to it. Moreover, the air of the Surrounding Sea and its surface harbors vapors 
that hamper ships on their courses. Because of the remoteness of these (vapors), the rays of 
the sun which the surface of the earth deflects, cannot reach and dissolve them. It is, 
therefore, difficult to find the way to (the Eternal Islands) and to have information about 
them. 

The first section of the first zone contains the mouth of the Nile which has its 
origin in the Mountain of the Qumr, as we have mentioned.— (This Nile) is called the 
Sudanese Nile. It flows toward the Surrounding Sea and into it at the island of Awlil.— 
The city of Sila,§4 Takrur,— and Ghanah— are situated along this Nile. At this time, all of 

them belong to the Mali people,^ a Negro nation. Moroccan merchants travel to their 
country. 

Close to it in the north is the country of the Lamtunah and of the other groups of 
the Veiled Berbers (Sinhajah), as well as the deserts in which they roam. To the south of 
this Nile, there is a Negro people called Lamlam. They are unbelievers. They brand 
themselves on the face and temples. The people of Ghanah and Takrur invade their 
country, capture them, and sell them to merchants who transport them to the Maghrib. 


There, they constitute the ordinary mass of slaves. Beyond them to the south, there is no 
civilization in the proper sense. There are only humans who are closer to dumb animals 
than to rational beings. They live in thickets and caves and eat herbs and unprepared grain. 

They frequently eat each other.^ They cannot be considered human beings. All the fruits 
of the Negro territory come from fortified villages in the desert of the Maghrib, such as 

Touat (Tawat, Tuwat), Tigurarin,— and Ouargla (Wargalan).— In Ghanah, an 'Alid king 
and dynasty are said to have existed. (These 'Alids) were known as the Banu Salih. 
According to the author of the Book of Roger, (Salih) was Salih b. 'Abdallah b. Hasan b. 

al-Hasan, but no such Salih is known among the sons of 'Abdallah b. Hasan .— At this 
time the dynasty has disappeared, and Ghanah belongs to the Mali ruler. 

To the east of this territory, in the third section of the first zone, is the territory of 

Gawgaw-^ It lies along a river that has its origin in certain mountains there, flows 
westward, and disappears in the sand in the second section. The realm of Gawgaw was 
independent. The Mali ruler then gained power over the territory, and it came into his 
possession. At this time it is devastated as the result of a disturbance that happened there 
and that we shall mention when we discuss the Mali dynasty in its proper place in the 
history of the Berbers.— 

To the south of the country of Gawgaw lies the territory of Kanim, a Negro 

nation-^ Beyond them are the Wangarah— on the border of the (Sudanese Nile) to the 
north. To the east of the countries of the Wangarah and the Kanim, there is the country of 
the Zaghay — and the Tajirah,— adjoining the land of the Nubah in the fourth section of 
the first zone. The land of the Nubah is traversed by the Egyptian Nile throughout its 
course from its beginning at the equator to the Mediterranean in the north. 

This Nile originates at the Mountain of the Qmr, sixteen degrees above — the 
equator. There are different opinions as to the correct form of the name of this mountain. 
Some scholars read the name as qamar "moon," because the mountain is very white and 

luminous. Yaqut, in the Mushtarik,— as well as Ibn Sa'id,— reads qumr, with reference to 
an Indian people.— 

Ten springs issue from this mountain. Five of them flow into one lake and five into 
another lake. There is a distance of six miles between the two lakes. From each of the two 
lakes, three rivers come forth. They come together in a swampy [?] lake (batihah) at the 
foot of which a mountain emerges. This mountain cuts across the lake at the northern end 
and divides its waters into two branches. The western branch flows westward through the 
Negro territory, and finally flows into the Surrounding Sea. The eastern branch flows 
northward through the countries of the Abyssinians and the Nubah and the region in 
between. At the boundary of Egypt, it divides. Three of its branches flow into the 

Mediterranean at Alexandria, at Rosetta,^ and at Damietta. One flows into a salt lake 
before reaching the sea. 

In the middle of the first zone along the Nile, lie the countries of the Nubah and the 
Abyssinians and some of the oases down to Assuan. A settled part of the Nubah country is 

the city of Dongola, west of the Nile. Beyond it are 'Alwah — and Yulaq.Sd Beyond them, 
a six days' journey north of Yulaq, is the mountain of the cataracts. This is a mountain 
which rises to a great height on the Egyptian side but is much less elevated on the side of 
the country of the Nubah, The Nile cuts through it and flows down precipitately in 
tremendous cascades for a long distance. Boats cannot get through. Cargoes from the 
Sudanese boats are taken off and carried on pack animals to Assuan at the entrance to 
Upper Egypt. In the same way, the cargoes of the boats from Upper Egypt are carried over 
the cataracts. The distance from the cataracts to Assuan is a twelve day's journey. The 
oases on the west bank of the Nile there are now in ruins. They show traces of ancient 


settlement. 

In the middle of the first zone, in its fifth section, is the country of the Abyssinians, 

through which a river flows, which comes from beyond the equator and -- flows toward 
the land of the Nubah, where it flows into the Nile and so on down into Egypt. Many 
people have held fantastic opinions about it and thought that it was part of the Nile of the 
Qumr (Mountain of the Moon). Ptolemy mentioned it in the Geography. He mentioned 
that it did not belong to the Nile. 

In the middle of the first zone, in the fifth section, the Indian Ocean terminates. It 
comes down from the region of China and covers most of the first zone to the fifth section. 
Consequently, there is not much civilization there. Civilization exists only on the islands in 
(the Indian Ocean) which are numerous and said to number up to one thousand. 
(Civilization also exists) on the southern coast of the Indian Ocean, the southernmost limit 
of the cultivated part of the earth, as also on its northern coast. Of these coasts, the first 
zone contains only a part of China to the east and the whole of the Yemen in the sixth 
section of this zone, where two seas branch off northwards from the Indian Ocean, namely, 
the Red Sea (Sea of al-Qulzum) and the Persian Gulf. Between them lies the Arabian 
Peninsula, comprising the Yemen, ash-Shihr to the east on the shore of the Indian Ocean, 
the Hijaz, the Yamimah, and adjacent regions which we shall mention in connection with 
the second zone and the regions farther north. 

On the western shore of the Indian Ocean is Zayla' (Zila'), which is on the 
boundary of Abyssinia, and the desert plains of the Beja north of Abyssinia, which lie 
between the mountain of al-Alliqi — in the southernmost part of Upper Egypt and the Red 
Sea which branches off from the Indian Ocean. North of Zayla' (Zila') in the northern part 
of this section is the straits of Bib al-Mandeb, where the sea that branches off there is 
narrowed by the promontory of alMandeb which juts into the Indian Ocean from south to 
north along the west coast of the Yemen for twelve miles. As a result, the sea becomes so 
narrow that its width shrinks to approximately three miles. This is called Bib al-Mandeb. 
Yemenite ships pass it on their way to the coast of Suez near Egypt (Cairo). North of Bib 
al-Mandeb are the islands of Suakin and Dahlak. Opposite it to the west are the desert 
plains of the Beja, a Negro nation, as we have just mentioned. To the east, on the coast of 
(the straits of Bib al-Mandeb) is the Tihimah of the Yemen. It includes the place of Haly 

b. Ya'qub.^ 

To the south of Zayla' (Zila') on the western coast of the Indian Ocean are the 
villages of Berbera which extend one after the other all along the southern coast of the 
(Indian Ocean) to the end of the sixth section. There, to the east, the country of the Zanj 

adjoins them. Then — comes the city of Mogadishu, a very populous city with many 
merchants, yet nomad in character, on the southern coast of the Indian Ocean. Adjoining it 
to the east is the country of the Sufilah on the southern coast in the seventh section of the 
first zone. 

East of the country of the Sufilah on the southern shore, lies the country of al- 
Wiqwiq — which stretches to the end of the tenth section of the first zone, where the 
Indian Ocean comes out of the Surrounding Sea. 

There are many islands in the Indian Ocean. One of the largest islands is the island 
of Ceylon (Sarandib) which is round in shape and has a famous mountain said to be the 
highest mountain on earth. It lies opposite Sufilah. Then, there is the island of Java (Malay 
Archipelago),— an oblong island that begins opposite the land of Sufilah and extends 
northeastward until it approaches the coasts that constitute China's southern boundary. In 
the Indian Ocean, to the south China is surrounded by the islands of al-Wiqwaq, and to the 

east by the islands of Korea. — There are numerous other islands in the Indian Ocean. 

These islands produce different kinds of perfumes and incense. They also are said to 


contain gold and emerald mines. Most of their inhabitants are Magians.— They have 
numerous rulers. These islands present remarkable cultural features that have been 
mentioned by geographers. 

The northern coast of the Indian Ocean, in the sixth section of the first zone, is 

occupied by the whole of the Yemen. On the Red Sea side lie Zabid, al-Muhjam,23 and 
the Tihamah of the Yemen. Next beyond that is Sa'dah, the seat of the Zaydi imams, lying 
far from the (Indian) Ocean to the south, and from the Persian Gulf to the east. In the 
region beyond that are the city of Aden and, north of it, San'a'. Beyond these two cities, to 
the east, is the land of al-Ahqaf and Z, afar. Next comes the land of Hadramawt, followed 
by the country of ash-Shihr between the (Indian) Ocean in the south and the Persian Gulf. 
This part of the sixth section is the only part that is not covered by water in the middle 
region of the first zone. Apart from it, a small portion of the ninth section is not covered 
by water, as well as a larger area in the tenth section that includes the southernmost limit 

of China. One of China's famous cities is the city of Canton.— Opposite it to the east are 
the islands of Korea which have just been mentioned. 

This concludes the discussion of the first zone. 


The second zone 

The second zone is contiguous with the northern boundary of the first zone. 
Opposite its western limit) in the Surrounding Sea are two of the Eternal Islands, which 
have been mentioned. 

At the southernmost part of the first and second sections of the second zone, there 

is the land of Qamnuriyah.SS Then, to the east, there are the southernmost parts of the land 
of Ghanah. Then, there are the desert plains of the Zaghay Negroes. In the northernmost 

part, there is the desert of Nisar.S^ It extends uninterruptedly from west to east. It has 
stretches of desert which are crossed by merchants on their way from the Maghrib to the 
Sudan country. It includes the desert plains of the Veiled Sinhajah Berbers. There are 

many subgroups, comprising the Gudalah,2Z the Lamtunah, the Massufah,— the Lamtah, 
and the Watrigah. Directly to the east of the waste regions is the land of Fezzan. Then, 
there are the desert plains of the Azgar, a Berber tribe, which extend due east in the 
southernmost part of the third section. This is followed, still in the third section, by part of 

the country of Kawar, a Negro nation. Then, there is a portion of the land of at-Tajuwin.— 
The northernmost part of the third section is occupied by the remainder of the land of 
Waddin, followed directly to the east by the land of Santariyah which is called the Inner 

Oases.l^Q 

The southernmost limit of the fourth section is occupied by the remainder of the 
land of at-Tajuwin. 

The middle of the fourth section, then, is intersected by Upper Egypt along the 
banks of the Nile, which flows from its source in the first zone to its mouth at the sea. In 
this section it passes through two mountain barriers, the Mountain of the Oases in the west, 
and the Muqattam in the east. At the southern part of the section lie Esna and Armant. 
There is a continuous riverbank region up to Assyut and Qus, and then to Sawl. There, the 
Nile divides into two branches. The right branch ends up at al-Lahun, still in the fourth 
section. The left branch ends up at Dalas. The region between them is the southernmost 
part of (Lower) Egypt. East of Mount Mugattam are the deserts of 'Aydhab, extending 
from the fifth section to the Sea of Suez, that is, the Red Sea (Sea of al-Qulzum) which 
branches off northwards from the Indian Ocean to the south. On the eastern shore of the 
Red Sea, in the same section, is the Hijaz, extending from the Mountain of Yalamlam to 
Yathrib (Medina). In the middle of the Hijaz is Mecca-God honor it! -and on its seashore 


there is the city of Jiddah, which is opposite 'Aydhab on the western shore of the Red Sea. 
In the sixth section to the west is the Najd, having as its southernmost limit Jurash 

and Tabalah,10-L (and extending) up to 'Ukaz in the north. North of the Najd, in the sixth 
section, is the remainder of the Hijaz. Directly to the east of (the Najd) lies the country of 
Najran and Janad. North of that is the Yamamah. Directly to the east of Najran, there is the 
land of Saba' and Ma'rib, followed by the land of ash-Shihr, which ends at the Persian 
Gulf. This is the other sea that branches off northward from the Indian Ocean, as has been 
mentioned, and turns westward on its course in the sixth section. The northeastern area of 
(the sixth section) constitutes a triangle. At its southernmost part is the city of Qalhat, the 
coast (seaport) of ash-Shihr. North of it, on the coast, is the country of Oman, followed by 
the country of alBahrayn with Hajar, at the end of the (sixth) section. 

The southwestern part of the seventh section contains a portion of the Persian Gulf 
connecting with the other portion of it in the sixth section. The Indian Ocean covers all the 
southernmost area of the seventh section. There, Western India lies along it, up to the 
country of Mukran which belongs to Western India. Opposite it, is the country of at- 

Tawbaran 1Q2 which also belongs to Western India. All of Western India lies in the 
western part of the seventh section. Western India is separated from Eastern India by 
stretches of desert, and is traversed by a river (the Indus) which comes from Eastern India 
and flows into the Indian Ocean in the south. Eastern India begins on the shore of the 

Indian Ocean. Directly to the east there lies the country of Ballahra.l^ North of it is 

Multan, the home of the great idol.^^4 The northernmost part of Eastern India is the 
southernmost part of the country of Sijistan. 

The western part of the eighth section contains the remainder of the country of 
Ballahra that belongs to Eastern India. Directly to the east of it lies the country of 

Gandhara.l^ Then, at the southernmost part (of the section), on the shore of the Indian 
Ocean, there is the country of Malabar (Munibar). North of it, in the northernmost part (of 

the section), there is the country of Kabul. Beyond (Kabul) to the east IQSa | s t h e territory 
of the Kanauj, between inner and outer Kashmir at the end of the zone. 

The ninth section, in its western part, contains farthest Eastern India, which extends 
to the eastern part (of the section) and stretches along its southernmost part up to the tenth 
section. In the northernmost part here, there is a portion of China. It includes the city of 

Khayghun.l^S china then extends over the whole tenth section up to the Surrounding Sea. 


Third Zone 

The third zone is contiguous with the northern boundary of the second zone. The 
first section, about one-third of the way from the southernmost part of the zone, contains 

the Atlas Mountain which runs from the western part of the first section at the 
Surrounding Sea to the eastern end of the section. This mountain is inhabited by 

innumerable Berber nations, as will be mentioned. In the region between this mountain 
and the second zone, at the Surrounding Sea, there is the Ribat (Monastery) Missah.102 

East of here are the adjoining countries of (as-)Sus HQ and Noun (Nul). Directly to the 
east of (these countries) is the country of Dar'ah, followed by the country of Sijilmasah and 
then by a portion of the desert of Nisar, the stretch of desert that we mentioned in 
describing the second zone. 

The Atlas Mountain towers over all these countries of the first section. The western 
region of the Atlas has few passes and roads but near the Moulouya (Malwiyah) River, and 
from there on to where it ends, the Atlas has a great number of passes and roads. This 
region contains the Masmudah nations: at the Surrounding Sea the Sakslwah, then the 


Hintatah, the Tinmallal, the Gidmiwah,Hl and then the Haskurah who are the last 

Masmudah in this area. Then there are the Zanigah,H2 that is, the Sinhijah- tribes. At the 
boundary of the first section of the third zone, there are some Zanatah tribes. To the north, 
Mount Awras (L'Aures), the mountain of the Kutamah, adjoins (the Atlas). After that, there 
are other Berber nations which we shall mention in their proper places. 

The Atlas Mountain in the western part of the section towers over Morocco to the 
north of it. In the southern part of (Morocco) lie Marrakech, Aghmat, and Tadla. On the 

Surrounding Sea there, are the Ribat Asfi and the city of Sale (Sala). East H2a 0 f the 

country of Marrakech lie Fez, Meknes, Taza, and Qasr Kutamah,!^ This is the area that 
is customarily called the Farthest Maghrib (Morocco) by its inhabitants. On the shore of 

the Surrounding Sea in that region lie Arcila (Azila) anc j Larache (al- Ara'ish). Directly 
to the east of this area, there is the country of the Middle Maghrib whose center is 

Tlemcen (Tilimsan). On the shores of the Mediterranean there, lie Hunayn,H^ Oran, and 
Algiers. The Mediterranean leaves the Surrounding Sea at the Straits of Tangier in the 

western part of the fourth zone, H6 and then extends eastward to Syria. Shortly after it 
leaves the narrow straits, it widens to the south and to the north and enters the third and 
fifth zones. This is why many places within the third zone are on the Mediterranean coast, 
from Tangier up to al-Qasr as-saghir, then Ceuta, the country of Badis, and Ghassasah. 
Algiers, which comes next, is near Bougie (Bajayah) on the east. Then, east of Bougie at 
the boundary of the first section is Constantine, a day's journey from the Mediterranean. 
South of these places, toward the south of the Middle Maghrib, is the territory of Ashir, 
with Mount Titteri, followed by Msila (al-Masilah) and the Zab. The center of (the Zab) is 
Biskra, north of Mount Awras which connects with the Atlas, as has been mentioned. This 
is the eastern end of the first section. 

The second section of the third zone is like the first section in that about one -third 
of the distance from its southern (limit) lies the Atlas Mountain which extends across this 
section from west to east and divides it into two portions. The Mediterranean covers one 
area in the north. The portion south of the Atlas Mountain is all desert to the west. To the 
east, there is Ghadames. Direcdy to the east (of this portion) is the land of Waddan, the 
remainder of which is situated in the second zone, as has been mentioned. The portion 
north of the Atlas Mountain between the Atlas and the Mediterranean contains in the west 
Mount Awras, Tebessa, and Laribus (al-Urbus). On the seacoast is Bone (Bunah). Directly 
east of these places lies the country of Ifriqiyah, with the city of Tunis, then Sousse 
(Susah), and al-Mahdiyah on the seacoast. South of these places and north of the Atlas 
Mountain, is the country of the Djerid (Jarid, al-Jarid), Tozeur (Tuzar), Gafsa (Qafsah), 
and Nefzoua (Nafzawah). Between them and the coast is the city of Kairouan (al- 
Qayrawan), Mount Ousselat (Ouselet, Waslat), and Sbeitla (Subaytilah). Directly east of 
these places lies Tripoli on the Mediterranean. Facing it in the south are the mountains of 
the Hawwarah tribes, Dammar (Mount Demmer), and Maqqarah (the city of Maggara), 
which connect with the Atlas and are opposite Ghadames which we mentioned at the end 
of the southern portion. At the eastern end of the second section lies Suwayqat Ibn 
Mathkud U^-on the sea. To the south are the desert plains of the Arabs in the land of 
Waddan. 

The third section of the third zone is also traversed by the Atlas Mountain, but at 
the limit (of the section) the Atlas turns northward and runs due north up to the 
Mediterranean. There, it is called Cape Awthan. The Mediterranean covers the northern 
part of the third section, so that the land between it and the Atlas narrows. Behind the 
mountain to the southwest, there is the remainder of the land of Waddan and the desert 

plains of the Arabs. Then, there is Zawilat Ibn Khattab,HZ followed by sandy deserts and 
waste regions to the eastern boundary of the section. To the west of the area between the 


mountain and the sea, there is Sirte (Surt) at the sea. Then, there are empty and waste 
regions in which the Arabs roam. Then, there is Ajdabiyah and, where the mountain makes 
a turn, Barca (Barqah). Next comes Tulaymithah (Ptolemais) on the sea. Then, to the east 

of the mountain, after it makes the turn, are the desert plains of the Hayyib H8 anc j t ] 1c 
Ruwahah, which extend to the end of the section. 

The southwestern part of the fourth section of the third zone contains the desert of 
Berenice. North of it is the country of the Hayyib and the Ruwahah. Then, the 
Mediterranean enters this section and covers part of it in a southern direction almost to the 
southern boundary. Between it and the end of the section, there remains a waste region 
through which the Arabs roam. Directly to the east of it is the Fayyum, at the mouth of one 
of the two branches of the Nile. This branch passes by al-Lahfin in Upper Egypt, in the 
fourth section of the zone, and flows into the Lake of the Fayyum. Directly to the east of 
(the Fayyum) is the land of Egypt with its famous city (Cairo), situated on the other branch 
of the Nile, the one that passes through Dalas in Upper Egypt at the boundary of the 
second section. This latter branch divides a I, log second time into two more branches 

below Cairo, at Shattanawf and Zifta(h).H9 The right branch again divides into two other 

branches at Tarnut.l^ All these branches flow into the Mediterranean. At the mouth of the 
western branch is Alexandria; at the mouth of the middle branch is Rosetta; and at the 
mouth of the eastern branch is Damietta. Between Cairo and the Mediterranean coast at 
these points lies the whole of northern Egypt, which is densely setded and cultivated. 

The fifth section of the third zone contains all or most of Syria, as I shall describe 
it. The Red Sea ends in the southwest (of the section) at Suez, because in its course from 
the Indian Ocean northward, it turns eventually westward. A long portion of its western 
extension lies in this section, with Suez at its western end. Beyond Suez, on this part of 
(the Red Sea), there are the mountains of Paran (Faran), Mount Sinai (atTur), Aila (Aylah) 

in Midyan (Madyan), and, where it ends, al-Hawra'.121 From there, its shoreline turns 
southward towards the land of the Hijaz, as has been mentioned in connection with the 
fifth section of the second zone. 

A portion of the Mediterranean covers much of the northwestern part of the fifth 

section. On its (coast) lie alFarama 12^ and al-'Arish. The end of this portion of the 
Mediterranean comes close to al-Qulzum. The area in between there is narrow. It becomes 
a kind of gate leading into Syria. West of this gate is the desert plain (at-Tih), a bare 
country in which nothing grows, where the Israelites wandered for forty years after they 

had left Egypt and before they entered Syria, as the Qur'an tells.l^ In this portion of the 
Mediterranean, in the fifth section, lies part of the island of Cyprus. The remainder (of 
Cyprus) lies in the fourth zone, as we shall mention. Along the coastline of that narrow 
strip of land between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, are al'Arish, the boundary of 
Egypt, and Ascalon. Between them, there is a (narrow) strip of land (separating the 
Mediterranean and) the Red Sea. Then, this portion of the Mediterranean turns to the north 

into the fourth zone at Tripoli and 'Argah.124 That is the eastern end of the Mediterranean. 
This portion of the Mediterranean comprises most of the Syrian coast. East and slightly to 
the north of Ascalon, is Caesarea. Then, in the same general direction, are Acco, Tyre, 
Sidon, and 'Arqah. The sea then turns north into the fourth zone. 

Opposite these places on the coast of this portion of the Mediterranean, in the fifth 
section, there is a big mountain which rises from the coast at Aila (Aylah) on the Red Sea. 
It runs northeastward until it leaves the fifth section. It is called Amanus (al-Lukkam). It is 
a kind of barrier between Egypt and Syria. At the one end, near Aila (Aylah), lies al- 
'Aqabah which the pilgrims pass through on their way from Egypt to Mecca. After it, to 

the north, is Abraham's tomb at Mount ash-Sharah 125 which is a continuation of the 
afore-mentioned Amanus north of al-'Aqabah. It extends due east, and then turns slightly 


(to the south). East of there is al-Hijr, the land of the Thamild, Tema (Tayma'), and Dumat 

al-Jandal, the northernmost part of the Hijaz. South of it is Mount Radwa.l^fi Farther 
south, there are the castles of Khaybar. Between Mount ash-Sharah and the Red Sea lies 
the desert of Tabuk. North of Mount ash-Sharah is the city of Jerusalem near the Amanus. 
Then, there is the Jordan and Tiberias. East of it lies the (Jordan) depression (Ghor, al- 

Ghawr)^^- which extends to Adhri'at and the Hawran. Directly to the east of (the Hawran) 
is Dumat al-Jandal which constitutes the end of the Hijaz and the fifth section. Where the 
Amanus turns north at the end of the fifth section is the city of Damascus, opposite Sidon 
and Beirut on the coast. The Amanus lies between (Sidon and Beirut, on the one hand), 

and (Damascus, on the other). Directly east 12^ of Damascus and facing it, is the city of 
Ba'lbakk. Then, there is the city of Emesa at the northern end of the fifth section, where 
the Amanus breaks off. East of Ba'lbakk and Emesa are the city Palmyra and desert plains 
extending to the end of the fifth section. 

The southernmost part of the sixth section contains the desert plains of the Arab 
Bedouins, (which are) located to the north of the Najd and the Yamimah in the area 
between the Mountain of al-'Arj and as-Sammin and extending to alBahrayn and Hajar at 
the Persian Gulf. In the northernmost part of the sixth section, to the north of the desert 
plains, lie al-Hirah, al-Qidisiyah, and the swampy lowlands of the Euphrates. Beyond that 
to the east is the city of al-Basrah. In the northeastern part of the sixth section, the Persian 
Gulf ends, at 'Abbidan and al-Ubullah. The mouth of the Tigris is at 'Abbidan. The Tigris 
divides into many branches and takes in other branches from the Euphrates. All of them 
come together at 'Abbidan and flow into the Persian Gulf. This portion of the Persian Gulf 
is wide in the southernmost part (of the section). It narrows toward its eastern boundary, 
and where it ends in the north it (also) is narrow. On the western coast lie the northernmost 
portion of al-Bahrayn, Hajar, and al-Ahsa'. To the west of this portion of the Persian Gulf, 

lie al-Khatt, as-Sammin, and the remainder of the land of the Yamimah. 

The eastern coast comprises the shores of Fars. In their southernmost part, at the 
eastern end of the sixth section, along a line stretching from the Persian Gulf eastward and 

beyond it to the south, are the mountains of al-Qufs 1^9 w hj c h are in Kirman. North of 
Hurmuz on the coast of the Persian Gulf, are Sirif and Najiram. In the east, toward the end 
of the sixth section and north of Hurmuz, is the country of Firs, comprising, for instance, 
Sibur, Darabjird, Fasi, Istakhr, ash-Shihijin, and Shiriz, the principal city. North of the 
country of Firs, at the end of the Persian Gulf, lies the country of Khuzistin which includes 
al-Ahwiz, Tustar, Jundishibur, Susa (as-Sus), Rimhurmuz, and other cities. Arrajin is on 
the boundary between Firs and Khuzistin. To the east of the country of Khuzistin are the 
Kurdish Mountains, which extend to the region of Isfahin. The Kurds live there. They 

roam beyond the mountains into the country of Firs. They are called az-zumum. 1 ^ 1 

The southwestern part of the seventh section contains the remainder of the 
Mountains of al-Qufs to which are adjacent in the south and north the countries of Kirman 
(and Mukran). They include the cities of ar-Rudhan, ash-Shirajan, Jiruft (Jayruft), 

Yazdshir, and al-Fahraj. North of the land of Kirman is the remainder of the country of 
Fars up to the border of Isfahan. The city of Isfahan lies in the northwest corner of the 
seventh section. East of the countries of Kirman and Firs, there is the land of Sijistin to the 
south, and the land of Kuhistan to the north. Between Kirmin-Firs and Sijistan-Kuhistin, 
in the middle of this section, is the great desert which has few roads because of the 
difficult terrain. Cities in Sijistin are Bust and at-Tiq. Kuhistan belongs to the country of 

Khurisin. One of Khurisan's best known places is Sarakhs,— on the boundary of the 
section. 

The eighth section contains, in the southwest, the plains of the Khalaj,— a Turkish 
nation. They adjoin the land of Sijistan in the west and the land of Kabul of Eastern India 


in the south. North of these desert plains are the mountains and country of al-Ghar starting 
with Ghaznah, the key to India. Where al-Ghur ends in the north, lies Astarabadh. Then, to 
the north is the country of Herat in the middle of Khurasan, extending to the boundary of 
the section. It includes Isfarayin, Qishan, Bushanj, Marw-ar-rudh, at-Taliqan, and al- 
Juzajan. This part of Khurasan extends to the river Oxus. Khurasanian places on this river 
are the city of Balkh to the west, and the city of at-Tirmidh to the east. The city of Balkh 
was the seat of the Turkish realm. 

The Oxus comes from the country of Wakhan in the area of Badakhshan which 
borders on India, in the southeast corner of this section. It soon turns west to the middle of 
the section. There, it is called the Kharnab River. It then turns north, passes Khurasan, 
flows due north, and finally flows into Lake Aral in the fifth zone, as we shall mention. In 
the middle of the eighth section where it turns from the south to the north, five large rivers 
belonging to the country of Khuttal and Wakhsh— flow into it on the east. Other rivers, 
coming from the Buttam Mountains to the east and north of Khuttal, also flow into it. The 
Oxus, thus, becomes wider and larger, so much so that no other river equals it in these 
respects. One of the five rivers flowing into the Oxus is the Wakhshab— which comes 
from the country of Tibet that extends over the southeastern portion of this section. It 
flows toward the northwest. Its course is blocked by a great mountain which runs from the 
middle of this section in the south toward the northeast, and leaves this section close to its 
northern (boundary) to pass into the ninth section. It crosses the country of Tibet toward 
the southeast portion of this section. It separates the Turks from the country of Khuttal. It 
has only one road in the middle of this section to the east. AlFadl b. Yahya constructed a 
dam there with a gate in it,— like the Dam of Gog and Magog. When the Wakhshab 
leaves the country of Tibet and comes up against that mountain, it flows under it for a long 
distance, until it enters the country of Wakhsh and flows into the Oxus at the border of 
Balkh. (The Oxus) then sweeps on to at-Tirmidh in the north and flows into the country of 
al-J(izajan. 

East of the country of al-Ghur, in the region between (this country) and the Oxus, 
is the country of al-Bamiyan, which belongs to Khurasan. There on the eastern bank of the 
river is the country of Khuttal, most of which is mountainous, and the country of Wakhsh. 
This is bordered in the north by the Buttam Mountains, which come from the border of 
Khurasan, west of the Oxus, and run eastward. Finally, where they end, a large mountain 
range begins, behind which lies the country of Tibet and under which there flows the 
Wakhshab, as we have stated. (The two mountain ranges) join at the gate of al-Fadl b. 
Yahya. The Oxus passes between them. Other rivers flow into it, among them the river of 
the country of Wakhsh, which flows into it from the east, below at-Tirmidh in the 
north.J^ 3 - The Balkha River— comes from the Buttam Mountains where it starts at al- 
Juzaj an, and flows into it from the west. On the western bank of this river (Oxus) lies 
Amul, which belongs to Khurasan. East of this river (Oxus) are the lands of the Soghd and 
Usrushanah, which belong to the country of the Turks. East of them is the land of 
Farghanah, which extends to the eastern end of the section. The entire country of the Turks 
here is crossed by the Buttam Mountains on the north. 

In the western part of the ninth section lies the country of Tibet, up to the middle of 
the section. In the south is India, and in the east, to the boundary of the section, is China. 

In the northernmost part of this section, north of the country of Tibet, is the country of the 
Kharlukh,— which belongs to the country of the Turks, extending to the northern 
boundary of the section. Adjacent to it on the west is the land of Farghanah,— and on the 
east is the land of the Turkish Tughuzghuz,— extending to the northeastern end of the 
section. 

The southern part of the tenth section is entirely occupied by the remaining 
northernmost portion of China. In the north is the remainder of the country of the 


Tughuzghuz. East of them is the country of the Turkish Kirghiz,— extending to the 
eastern end of the section. North of the land of the Kirghiz is the country of the Turkish 
Kimak.l^l 

Opposite (the Kirghiz and Kimak countries), in the Surrounding Sea, lies the 
Hyacinth (Ruby) Island in the middle of a round mountain that completely blocks access 
to it. Climbing to the top of the mountain from the outside is extremely difficult. On the 
island, there are deadly snakes and many pebbles of hyacinth (ruby). The people of that 
region contrive to mine them with the help of divine inspiration. 

The regions in the ninth and tenth sections extending beyond Khurasan and Khuttal 
are desert plains where innumerable Turkish nations roam. They are wandering nomads 
who have camels, sheep, cattle, and horses for breeding, riding, and eating. There are very 
many, (indeed) innumerable groups. There are Muslims among them in the area adjacent 
to the Oxus. They make raids on the unbelievers among them, who follow the Magian — 
religion. They sell their captives to their near (neighbors), who export them to Khurasan, 
India, and the 'Iraq. 


The fourth zone 

The fourth zone is contiguous with the northern part of the third (zone). Its first 
section, in the west, contains a portion of the Surrounding Sea which, oblong in shape, 
extends from the southern to the northern boundary of the section. The city of Tangier is 
situated on it in the south. North of Tangier, the Mediterranean branches off from this 
portion of the Surrounding Sea in a narrow straits that is only twelve miles wide, Tarifa 

and Algeciras (lying) to the north of it and Qasr al-Majaz — and Ceuta to the south of it. 
It runs east until it reaches the middle of the fifth section of the fourth zone, gradually 
widening and eventually covering the (first) four sections and most of the fifth section of 
the fourth zone, as well as adjacent regions of the third and fifth zones, as we shall 
mention. 

The Mediterranean is also called the "Syrian Sea." It contains many islands. The 
largest of them, from west to east, are Ibiza, Majorca, Minorca, Sardinia, Sicily- which is 
the largest of them -the Peloponnesos, Crete, and Cyprus. We shall mention each of them 
in its particular section. 

At the end of the third section of the fourth zone and in the third section of the 
fifth zone, the Adriatic Sea (Straits of the Venetians) branches off from the Mediterranean. 
It runs in a northern direction, then turns westward in the northern half of the section, and 
finally ends in the second section of the fifth zone. 

At the eastern boundary of the fourth section of the fifth zone, the Straits of 
Constantinople branches off from the Mediterranean. In the north, it makes a narrow 
passage only an arrow shot in width, extending up to the boundary of the zone and on into 
the fourth section of the sixth zone, where it turns into the Black Sea, running eastward 
across the whole of the fifth, and half of the sixth, sections of the sixth zone, as we shall 
mention in the proper place. 

Where the Mediterranean leaves the Surrounding Sea through the Straits of Tangier 
and expands into the third zone, there remains a small portion of this section south of the 
Straits. The city of Tangier is situated in it, at the confluence of the two seas. After Tangier 
comes Ceuta on the Mediterranean, then Tetuan (Tittawin), and Badis. The remainder of 
this section to the east is covered by the Mediterranean, which extends into the third 
(zone). Most of the cultivated area in this section is north of it and north of the Straits. All 
this is Spain. 

The western part of Spain, the area between the Surrounding Sea and the 
Mediterranean, begins at Tarifa, at the confluence of the two seas. East of it, on the shore 


of the Mediterranean, is Algeciras, followed by Malaga, Almunecar, and Almeria. 
Northwest of these cities and close to the Surrounding Sea, there is Jerez (de la Frontera), 
followed by Niebla. Opposite these two cities, in the Surrounding Sea, is the island of 
Cadiz. East of Jerez and Niebla are Sevilla, followed by Ecija, Cordoba, and Marbella [? 

],144 then Granada, Jaen, and Ubeda, then Guadix and Baza. Northwest of these cities on 
the Surrounding Sea are Santamaria and Silves. (North)east of these two cities are Badajoz, 

Merida, and Evora'445 followed by Ghafiq 446 and Trujillo, and then Calatrava. 

Northwest of these cities on the Surrounding Sea, there is Lisbon on the Tajo. East of 
Lisbon, on the Tajo, are Santarem and Coria. Then, there is Alcantara. Facing Lisbon on 
the east, there rises the Sierra (de Guadarrama) which starts in the west there and runs 
eastward along the northern boundary of the section. It ends at Medinaceli beyond the 
middle of (the section). Below (at the foot of) the Sierra, is Talavera, east of Coria, 
followed by Toledo, Guadalajara, and Medinaceli. Where the Sierra begins, in the region 
between the Sierra and Lisbon, is Coimbra. This is western Spain. 

Eastern Spain is bordered by the Mediterranean. Here, Almeria is followed by 

Cartagena, Alicante, Denia, and Valencia, up to Tarragona 44Z a t the eastern boundary of 
the section. North of these cities are Lorca and Segura, adjacent to Baza and Calatrava, 
which belong to western Spain. To the east, then, comes Murcia, followed by Jativa north 

of Valencia, 148 t h en j ucar 149 jortosa, and 1^ Tarragona at the boundary of the section. 
Then, north of these cities, there are the lands of Chinchilla and Huete, which are adjacent 
to Segura and Toledo in the west. Northeast of Tortosa, then, is Fraga. East of Medinaceli, 
there is Calatayud, followed by Saragossa and Lerida at the northeastern end of the section. 

The second section of the fourth zone is entirely covered by water, except for a 

portion in the northwest which includes the remainder of the Pyrenees, 1^1 the "Mountain 
of Passes and Roads." It comes there from the boundary of the first section of the fifth 
zone. It starts at the southeastern limit of the Surrounding Sea on the boundary of this 
section, runs southeastward, and enters the fourth zone upon leaving the first section for 
the second, so that a portion of it falls into the fourth zone. Its passes lead into the adjacent 
mainland, which is called the land of Gascogne. It contains the cities of Gerona and 
Carcassonne. On the shores of the Mediterranean in this portion, is the city of Barcelona, 
followed by Narbonne. 

The sea which covers this section contains many islands, most of which are 
uninhabited because they are small. In the west, there is the island of Sardinia, and in the 
east the large island of Sicily. Its circumference is said to be seven hundred miles. It 
contains many cities, the best known among them being Syracuse, Palermo, Trapani, 
Mazzara, and Messina. Sicily is opposite Ifriqiyah. Between Sicily and Ifriqiyah are the 
islands of Gozzo and Malta. 

The third section of the fourth zone is also covered by the sea, except for three 
portions in the north. The one in the west belongs to the land of Calabria, the one in the 
middle to Lombardy, and the one in the east to the country of the Venetians. 

The fourth section of the fourth zone is also covered by the sea, as has been 
mentioned. It contains many islands. Most of them are uninhabited, as is the case in the 
third section. The inhabited islands are the Peloponnesos, in the northwest, and Crete, 
which is oblong in shape and stretches from the middle of the section to the southeast. A 
large triangular area of the fifth section in the southwest is covered by the sea. The western 
side of (this triangle) goes to the northern boundary of the fifth section. The southern side 
goes across about two-thirds of the section. There remains at the eastern side of the section 
a portion of about one -third. Its northern part runs west along the seacoast, as we have 
stated. Its southern half contains the northernmost region of Syria. It is traversed in the 
middle by the Amanus. The Amanus eventually reaches the northern end of Syria, where it 
turns in a northeasterly direction. At the point where it turns, it is called "Chain 


Mountain."!^ There, it enters the fifth zone. After it turns, it traverses a portion of the 
Jazirah in an easterly direction. West of where it turns, there rise contiguous mountain 
ranges. They finally end at an inlet of the Mediterranean, near the northern end of the 
section. Through these mountains, there are passes which are called ad-Durub (mountain 
passes). They lead into Armenia. This section contains a portion of Armenia situated 
between these mountains and the Chain Mountain. 

The southern region, as we have mentioned before, comprises the northernmost 
region of Syria, and the Amanus extends across it from south to north in the area between 

the Mediterranean and the boundary of the section. On the seacoast is Antarsus, at the 
beginning of the section to the south. It borders on Arqah and Tripoli which lie on the 
shore of the Mediterranean in the third zone. North of Antarsus is Jabalah, followed by 
Lattakiyah, Alexandretta, and Selefke. North of these cities is the Byzantine territory. 

The Amanus, which lies between the sea and the end of the section, is hugged, in 
Syria in the southwestern part of the section, by the fortress of llisn al-Khawabi, which 
belongs to the Isma'ili Assassins who at this time are called Fidawis. The fortress (also) is 

called Masyat.l^ 1 It lies opposite Antarsus to the east. On the side opposite this fortress, 
east of the Amanus, is Salamlyah, north of Emesa. North of Masyat, between the mountain 
and the sea, lies Antioch. Opposite it, east of the Amanus, is al-Ma'arrah, and east of al- 
Ma'arrah, al-Marighah. North of Antioch, there is al-Massisah, followed by Adhanah and 
Tarsus, at the furthest point of Syria. Facing (Antioch), west of the mountain, is Qinnasrin, 
followed by 'Ayn Zarbah. Opposite Qinnasrin, east of the mountain, is Aleppo, and 
opposite Ayn Zarbah is Manbij, the furthest point of Syria. 

The area to the right of the Dumb, between them and the Mediterranean, comprises 
the Byzantine territory (Anatolia). At this time, it belongs to the Turkomans and is ruled by 

Ibn Uthman (the Ottomans).— On the shore of the Mediterranean there, are Antalya and 
al— 'Alaya. 

Armenia, which lies between the Dumb and the Chain Mountain, comprises 
Mar'ash, Malatya, and Ankara, 1 ^- up to the northern end of the section. In Armenia, in 
the fifth section, originate the river Jayhan and, to the east of it, the river Sayhan. The 
Jayhan flows south until it has traversed the Dumb. It then passes by Tarsus and al- 
Massisah, then turns northwestward and eventually flows into the Mediterranean south of 
Selefke. The Sayhan runs parallel to the Jayhan. It is opposite Ankara and Mar'ash, 
traverses the Dumb Mountains, reaches Syria, then passes by 'Ayn Zarbah, then turns away 
from the Jayhan, and turns northwestward. It joins the Jayhan west of al-Massisah. 

The Jazirah, which is surrounded by the portion of the Amanus that turns into the 
Chain Mountain, contains in the south ar-Rafiqah and ar-Raqqah, followed by Harran, 
Saruj, Edessa, Nisibis, Samosata, and Amid, north of the Chain Mountain, at the 
northeastern end of the section. The Euphrates and the Tigris traverse this area in the 
middle. They originate in the fifth zone, pass southward through Armenia, and cross the 
Chain Mountain. The Euphrates, then, flows west of Samosata and Saruj in an easterly 
direction. It passes west of ar-Rafiqah and ar-Raqqah and on into the sixth section. The 
Tigris flows east of Amid and shortly thereafter turns to the east. Then, it soon passes on 
into the sixth section. 

The sixth section of the fourth zone contains the Jazirah to the west. Immediately 
east of it is the country of the 'Iraq, which terminates near the boundary of the section. At 
the boundary of the 'Iraq is the Mountain of Isfahan which comes from the south of the 
section and runs in a westerly direction. When it reaches the middle of the northern end of 
the section, it runs west. Eventually, leaving the sixth section, it joins on its course due 
west, the Chain Mountain in the fifth section. 

The sixth section is divided into two portions, a western and an eastern. The 


western portion, in the south, contains the point where the Euphrates leaves the fifth 
section, and, in the north, the point where the Tigris leaves it. As soon as the Euphrates 
enters the sixth section, it passes Qirqisiya'. There, a (river) branches off from the 
Euphrates. It flows north into the Jazirah and disappears there in the ground. Shortly past 
Qirqisiya', the Euphrates turns south and passes to the west of the Khabir and on west of 
ar-Rahbah. A (river) branches off there from the Euphrates and flows south. Siffin lies to 
the west of it. (This river) then turns east and divides into a number of branches. Some of 
them pass by alKufah, others by Qasr Ibn Hubayrah and al-Jami'ayn (alHillah). Now, in 
the south of the section all of them enter the third zone and disappear into the ground east 
of al-Hirah and al-Qadisiyah. The Euphrates flows directly east from arRahbah, and passes 

north of Hit. It then flows south of azZab--— and al-Anbar, and into the Tigris at 
Baghdad. 

When the Tigris leaves the fifth section for the sixth section, it flows due east, 
opposite the Chain Mountain which connects with the Mountain of al-'Iraq on its course 
due west, and passes north of Jazirat Ibn 'Umar. Then it passes Mosul in the same way, 
and Takrit. It reaches al-Hadithah, turns south, leaving al-Hadithah to the east of it, and 
likewise the Greater and the Lesser Zab. It flows directly south and to the west of al- 
Qadisiyah. Eventually it reaches Baghdad and joins with the Euphrates. Then it flows 
south, to the west of Jarjaraya, and eventually leaves the section and enters the third zone. 
There it divides into many branches. They unite again and there flow into the Persian Gulf 
at 'Abbidin. The region between the Tigris and the Euphrates, before they have come 
together at Baghdad, is the Jazirah. Below Baghdad, another river joins the Tigris. It comes 
from northeast of (the Tigris). It reaches an-Nahrawin opposite Baghdad to the east. Then 
it turns south and joins with the Tigris before entering the third zone. For the region 
between this river and the mountains of al-'Iriq and Kurdistan, there remains Jaluli' and, 
east of it at the mountain, Hulwin and Saymarah. 

The western portion of the section contains a mountain that starts from the Kurdish 
mountains and runs east toward the end of the section. It is called the Mountain of 
Shahrazur. It divides the (western portion) into two subdivisions. The southern subdivision 
contains Khunajin, northwest of Isfahan. This section is called the country of al- 

Bahlus.— In the middle of the southern subdivision is Nahiwand, and, in the north, 
Shahrazur, west of the point where the two mountain ranges meet, and ad-Dinawar (is) on 
the east, at the boundary of the section. The other subdivision contains part of Armenia, 
including its principal place, al-Marighah. The portion of the Mountain of al-'Iraq that 
faces it is called the Mountain of Birimma.— It is inhabited by Kurds. The Greater Zab 
and the Lesser Zib at the Tigris are behind it. At the eastern end of this section lies 
Azerbaijan, which includes Tabriz and al-Baylagan.— j n the northeast corner of the 
section is a small portion of [the Black Sea,] the Caspian (Sea of the Khazars).— 

The seventh section of the fourth zone contains, in the southwest, the largest 
portion of the country of al-Bahlus, including Hamadhin and Qazwin. The remainder of it 
is in the third zone; Isfahan is situated there. ( Al-Bahlus and Isfahan) are surrounded on 
the south by mountains which come from the west, pass through the third zone, leave it in 
the sixth section for the fourth zone, and join the eastern portion of the Mountain of al- 
'Iraq, as has been mentioned before. They (also) surround the eastern portion of the coun- 
try of al-Bahlus. These mountains which surround Isfahan run north from the third zone, 
enter this seventh section, and then inclose the country of al-Bahlus on the east. Below (at 
the foot of) them, is Qishin, followed by Qumm. Near the middle of their course, they turn 
slightly west; then, describing an arc, they run northeastward, and eventually enter the fifth 
zone. Where they turn (west) and make the circle, ar-Rayy lies to the east. Where they turn 
(west), another mountain range starts and runs west to the boundary of the seventh section. 
South of the mountains there is Qazwin. North of them and alongside the connecting 
mountains of arRayy, extending in a northeastern direction to the middle of the section 


and then into the fifth zone, lies the country of Tabaristan in the region between these 
mountains and a portion of the Caspian Sea (Sea of Tabaristan). From the fifth zone, it 
enters the seventh section about halfway between west and east. Where the mountains of 
ar-Rayy turn west, there lie other, connecting mountains. They run directly east and 
slightly south, and eventually enter the eighth section from the west. Between the 
mountains of ar-Rayy and these mountains, at their starting point, there remains Jurjan, 
which includes Bistam.— Behind these (latter) mountains, there is a part of the seventh 
section that contains the remainder of the desert area between Fars and Khurisan, to the 
east of Qishin. At its farthest point, near these mountains, is Astaribidh. On the eastern 
slopes of these mountains, and extending to the boundary of the section, lies the country of 
Nisabur, which belongs to Khurisin. South of the mountains and east of the desert area, 
lies Nisabur, followed by Marw ash-Shihijan — at the end of the section. North of it and 
east of Jurjan, are Mihrajin, Khazarun, and Tus, the eastern end of the section. All these 
places are north of the mountains. Far to the north of them is the country of Nasa, which is 
surrounded by barren stretches of desert, in the northeastern corner of the section. 

The eighth section of the fourth zone, in the west, contains the Oxus which flows 

from south to north. On its western bank, there are Zamm 1£2 anc j Arnul which belong to 
Khurasan, as well as at-Tahiriyah and Gurganj which belongs to Khuwarizm. The 
southwest corner of the section is surrounded by the mountains of Astarabadh, which were 
found already in the seventh section. They enter this section from the west and encircle the 
(southwestern) corner, which includes the remainder of the country of Herat. In the third 
zone, the mountains pass between Herat and al-Juzajan, and eventually connect with the 
Buttam Mountain, as we mentioned there. East of the Oxus in the south of this section, is 
the country of Bukhara, followed by the country of the Soghd, with Samarkand as its 
principal place. Then comes the country of Usritshanah, which includes Khujandah at the 

eastern end of the section. North of Samarkand and Usrushanah, is the land of Ilaq.lfi^ 
North of Ilaq is the land of Tashkent (ash-Shish), which extends to the eastern boundary of 
the section and occupies a portion of the ninth section that in the south includes the 
remainder of the land of Farghanah. 

From this portion of the ninth section, comes the river of Tashkent (Syr Darya). It 
cuts through the eighth section, and eventually flows into the Oxus where the latter leaves 
the eighth section in the north for the fifth zone. In the land of Ilaq, a river coming from 
the ninth section of the third zone, from the borders of Tibet, flows into the river of 
Tashkent, and before the latter leaves the ninth section, the river of Farghanah flows into it. 
Parallel to the river of Tashkent lies Mount Jabraghun, which starts from the fifth zone, 
turns southeast, and eventually enters the ninth section and runs along the borders of the 
land of Tashkent. Then, it turns in the ninth section, continues along the boundaries of 
Tashkent and Farghanah, goes on to the southern part of the section, and then enters the 
third zone. Between the river of Tashkent and the bend of this mountain in the middle of 
the section, there is the country of Farab. Between it and the land of Bukhari and 
Khuwarizm are barren stretches of desert. In the northeast corner of this section is the land 

of Khujandah, l£3a which includes Isbijab and Taraz.-^S 

The ninth section of the fourth zone, to the west beyond Farghanah and Tashkent, 

contains the land of the Kharlukh in the south, and the land of the Khallukh 1£6 j n q lc 
north. The whole eastern part of the section to its farthest point is occupied by the land of 

the Kimak. It extends over the whole tenth section to the Qufaya Mountains which are 
at the eastern end of the section and lie there on a portion of the Surrounding Sea. They 
are the Mountains of Gog and Magog. All these nations are Turkish peoples. 


The fifth zone 


Most of the first section of the fifth zone is covered by water, except a small 
portion of the south and of the east. In this western region, the Surrounding Sea enters into 
the fifth, sixth, and seventh zones from the circle it describes around the zones. The 
portion to the south that is free from water has a triangular shape. It there touches Spain 
and comprises the remainder of it. It is surrounded on two sides 

by the sea, as if by the two sides of a triangle. It occupies the remainder of western 

Spain, including Montemayor — on the seacoast at the beginning of the section in the 
southwest. Salamanca is to the east, and Zamora to the north. East of Salamanca, at the 
southern end, is Avila, and east of it, the land of Castilla with the city of Segovia. North of 
it is the land of Leon and Burgos. Beyond it to the north is the land of Galicia, which 
extends to the corner of this portion. At the Surrounding Sea there, at the far point of the 
western side (of the triangle), the portion includes the region of Santiago-that is, (Saint) 
Jacob. 

Of eastern Spain, the triangular portion contains the city of Tudela, at the southern 
end of the section and to the east of Castilla. To the northeast of Tudela are Huesca and 
Pamplona directly to the east of (Huesca). West of Pamplona, there is Estella (Qastallah), 

followed by Najera — in the region between Estella and Burgos. This (triangular) portion 
contains a large mountain. It faces the sea and the northeast side of the triangle, in close 
proximity both to it and to the seacoast at Pamplona in the east. We have mentioned before 
that it connects in the south with the Mediterranean in the fourth zone. It constitutes a 
barrier for Spain in the north. Its passes are gates leading from Spain to the country of 
Gascogne, which belongs to the European Christian nations. In the fourth zone, there 
belong to (Gascogne) Barcelona and Narbonne on the shore of the Mediterranean; north of 
them, Gerona and Carcassonne; and in the fifth zone, Toulouse, north of Gerona. 

The eastern portion of this section has the shape of an oblong triangle with its 
acute angle beyond the Pyrenees to the east. On the Surrounding Sea, at the top where it 
connects with the Pyrenees, this portion includes Bayonne. At the end of it, in the 
northeastern region of the section, is the land of Poitou, which belongs to the European 
Christians and extends to the end of the section. 

The western region of the second section contains the land of Gascogne. North of it 
are the lands of Poitou and Bourges.— Both countries have been mentioned by us. East of 
the country of Gascogne lies a portion of the Mediterranean. It projects into this section 
like a tooth, in an easterly direction. To the west, the country of Gascogne juts out into a 
gulf of the Mediterranean[?j. At the northern extremity of this portion is the country of 
Genoa, along which to the north lie the Alps.— At their northern limit lies the land of 
Burgundy. East of the gulf of Genoa, which comes from the Mediterranean, another gulf 
comes from the same sea. The two gulfs include a portion of land in the shape of a 
peninsula on which, in the west, lies Pisa, and in the east the great city of Rome, the 
capital of the European Christians and the residence of the Pope, their highest religious 
dignitary. It contains magnificent, historically famous buildings, imposing monuments,— 
and gigantic churches. One of the remarkable things at Rome is the river that flows 

through it from east to west, the bed of which is paved with copper.— Rome contains the 
Church of the Apostles Peter and Paul, who are buried in it. North of the country of Rome 
is the country of Lombardy, which extends to the boundary of the section. On the eastern 
shore of the gulf on which Rome is situated, lies Naples. It is adjacent to the country of 
Calabria, which (also) belongs to the lands of the European Christians. North of it, a 
portion of the Adriatic Sea (Gulf of Venice) comes into this section from the third section, 
turns west, and faces north in this section, and extends to about one -third of it. A large 
portion of the country of the Venetians is situated on this portion of the Adriatic Sea, in 

the south, 124 j n q ie region between (the Adriatic Sea) and the Surrounding Sea. North of it 
lies the country of Aquileia in the sixth zone. 


The third section of the fifth zone contains in the west the country of Calabria, 
between the Adriatic Sea and the Mediterranean. Part of the mainland in the 
Mediterranean in the fourth zone forms a portion of land in the shape of a peninsula, 

between two gulfs that extend due north from the Mediterranean into this section.— East 

of the country of Calabria is the country of the Lombards,!^ along a portion of land 
formed by the Adriatic Sea and the Mediterranean, of which one end enters the fourth 
zone and the Mediterranean. 

To the east, this section is surrounded by the Adriatic Sea, which belongs to the 
Mediterranean. It flows due north, then turns west opposite the northern end of the section. 
Alongside it, a large mountain (range) comes from the fourth zone. It faces it (the sea) and 
runs parallel to it on its way north, then turns west along it in the sixth zone, and 
eventually ends opposite a straits in the north of it, in the country of Aquileia, a German 
(Alamanni) nation, as we shall mention. At this straits and between it and this mountain 
(range), where the mountains and the sea go off to the north, lies the country of the 
Venetians. Where the mountains and the sea go off to the west, they border the country of 
Jarwasiyi, and then the country of the Germans (Alamanni), at the end of the straits. 

The fourth section of the fifth zone contains a portion of the Mediterranean which 
enters it from the fourth zone. (This portion of the sea) is strongly indented by arms of the 
sea which jut out in a northerly direction and are separated by portions of land in the shape 
of peninsulas. At the eastern end of the section lies the Straits of Constantinople. (This 
narrow body of water) comes from this southern part (of the section), flows due north, and 
eventually enters the sixth zone. There, it immediately turns eastward (and joins) the Black 
Sea in the fifth section; (the latter also occupies) part of the fourth and sixth sections of the 
sixth zone, as we shall mention. Constantinople is to the east of this straits at the northern 
end of the section. It is a large city and was the seat of the Byzantine emperors. There are 
many stories about the magnificent architectural and other monuments there. The portion 
of this section between the Mediterranean and the Straits of Constantinople comprises the 
country of Macedonia, which belonged to the (ancient) Greeks, whose royal authority had 
its origin there. East of the straits and extending to the end of the section, there is a portion 
of the land of Batus.— This, I believe, is the desert plains where, at the present time, the 
Turkomans roam. There is (located) the realm of Ibn 'Uthman (the Ottomans), with its 

chief city Bursa (Brussa).12h> Before them, it belonged to the Byzantines, from whom it 
was taken away by other nations, and eventually came into possession of the Turkomans. 

The southwestern part of the fifth section of the fifth zone contains the land of 
Batus (Anatolia). North of it and extending to the boundary of the section, is the country 

of Amorium. East of Amorium is the Qubagib (Tokhma Su) -^ ii which flows into the 
Euphrates. It has its source in a mountain there and flows south until it joins the Euphrates, 
before the latter leaves this section and crosses over into the fourth zone. West of (the 
Euphrates), at the (southern) end of the section, the Sayhan, and west of it, the Jayhan, 
originate. Both rivers flow alongside (the Euphrates). They have been mentioned before. 
East of (the Euphrates) there, the Tigris originates. It always flows alongside (the 
Euphrates), and eventually joins it at Baghdad. In the southeastern corner of this section, 
behind the mountain where the Tigris originates, lies Mayyafariqin. The Qubaqib, which 
we have mentioned, divides this section into two portions. The one covers the southwest 
and contains the land of Batus (Anatolia), as we have said. The northernmost part of (the 
land of Batus), the region extending to the northern end of the section and beyond the 
mountain where the Qubaqib originates, is the land of Amorium, as we have said. The 
other portion covers the northeastern and southeastern third (of the section). In the south of 
this the Tigris and Euphrates originate. In the north, there is the country of al-Baylagin, 

which adjoins the land of Amorium behind Mount Qubagib — and extends far. At its end, 
where the Euphrates originates, is Kharshanah.— In the northeast corner is a portion of 


the Black Sea that connects with the Straits of Constantinople. 

The sixth section of the fifth zone contains in the southwest the country of 
Armenia, which extends eastward beyond the middle of the section. Arzan (Erzerum) is in 
the southwest (of Armenia). To the north (of it) lie Tiflis and Dabil. East of Arzan is the 
city of Khilat, followed by Bardha'ah. In the southeast is the (capital) city of Armenia. 
There, Armenia, entering the fourth zone, includes. alMaraghah, east of the Mountain of 
the Kurds which is called Mountain of Barimma, and which has been mentioned before in 
connection with the sixth section of the fourth zone. In this section, and in the fourth zone, 
Armenia is bordered to the east by the country of Azerbaijan. (Azerbaijan's) easternmost 
point in this section is Ardabil, on a portion of the Caspian Sea. The Caspian Sea enters 
this section from the east from the seventh section, and is called the Sea of Tabaristan 
(Caspian Sea). On its northern shore, in this section, it contains a portion of the country of 
the Khazars. They are Turkomans. At the northern end of this portion of the Caspian Sea, 
a mountain range begins and runs due west to the fifth section, crosses it, encircles 
Mayyafariqin, and enters the fourth zone at Amid, where it connects with the Chain 
Mountain in the northernmost part of Syria, and from there (goes on to) connect with the 
Amanus, as has already been mentioned. 

In these mountains in the northern part of this section, there are passes that 
constitute a sort of gates giving entry from both sides. To the south, is the country of the 

"Gates," which extends eastward to the Caspian Sea. The city of Derbend,— which 
belongs to this country, lies on the Caspian Sea. In the southwest, the country of the 
"Gates" adjoins Armenia. East of (the country of the Gates), between it and southern 

Azerbaijan, is the country of Arran (Ar-Ran),— which extends to the Caspian Sea. North 
of these mountains, there lies a portion of this section comprising in the west the realm of 
the Sarir;— The northwest corner of that portion, which constitutes the (northwest) corner 
of the whole section, is also occupied by a small portion of the Black Sea that connects 
with the Straits of Constantinople. (This) has been mentioned before. This portion of the 
Black Sea is surrounded by the country of the Sarir. Trebizond, which belongs to (that 
country), lies on it. The country of the Sarir extends between the mountains of the "Gates" 
and the northern part of the section. It eventually reaches a mountain in the east that 
constitutes a barrier between it and the land of the Khazars. On the far boundary of the 
(country of the Sarir), is the city of Sul. Behind this mountain barrier, there is a portion of 
the land of the Khazars reaching the northeast corner of this section, between the Caspian 
Sea and the northern end of the section. 

The seventh section of the fifth zone is entirely covered in the west by the Caspian 
Sea, a portion of which protrudes into the fourth zone to the south. On (the shores of) this 
portion are situated, as we have mentioned in connection with the (fourth zone), the 
country of Tabaristin and the mountains of the Daylam up to Qazwin. In the west of this 
portion and connecting with it, there is the small portion that lies in the sixth section of the 
fourth zone. Connecting with it in the north is the portion that lies in the eastern part of the 
sixth section above. A part of the northwest corner of this section, where the Volga flows 
into it, is not covered by the Caspian Sea. In the eastern region of this section there (also) 
remains a part which is not covered by the Caspian Sea. It consists of desert plains in 
which the Ghuzz, a Turk nation, roam. They are also called the Khtiz. (Ghuzz) looks like 

an Arabization, with kh becoming gh, and doubling of the z)^- This part is surrounded by 
a mountain (range) to the south that enters the eighth section, runs not quite halfway 
through the western part, turns north, eventually touches the Caspian Sea, hugs it closely 
all the way through its remaining portion in the sixth zone, then turns at its end, and 

separates from it. There, it is called Mount Shiyah.— It runs westward to the sixth section 
of the sixth zone, then turns back south to the sixth section of the fifth zone. It is this end 
of the mountain (range) that lies in this section between the land of the Sarir and the land 
of the Khazars. The land of the Khazars extends along the slopes of the mountain called 


Mount Shiyah in the sixth and seventh sections, as will be mentioned. 

The whole eighth section of the fifth zone contains desert plains where the Ghuzz, 
a Turkish nation, roam. In the southwest is Lake Aral, into which the Oxus flows. Its 
circumference is three hundred miles. Many rivers flow into it from these desert plains. In 

the northeast is the Lake of Ghurghun,— a fresh- water lake. Its circumference is four 
hundred miles. In the northern region of this section stands Mount Murghar,— which 
means "Snow Mountain," because the snow on it never melts. It lies at the far end of the 
section. South of the Lake of Ghurghun there is a mountain of solid stone where nothing 
grows. It is called Ghurghun Mountain. The lake is named after it. In the Ghurghun and 
Murghar Mountains north of the lake, innumerable rivers have their origin. They flow into 
the lake from both sides. 

The ninth section of the fifth zone contains the country of the Adhkish,— a 
Turkish nation, west of the country of the Ghuzz, and east of the country of the Kimak. In 
the east at its end, (the section) is hugged by the Qifaya Mountains that surround Gog and 
Magog. They stretch there from south to north, assuming this direction right after entering 
from the tenth section, which they had, in turn, entered from the end of the tenth section of 
the fourth zone. There, they border the Surrounding Sea on the northern boundary of the 
section. They then turn west in the tenth section of the fourth zone and extend almost to 
the middle of the section. From where they begin to this point, they surround the country 
of the Kimak. Entering the tenth section of the fifth zone, they cross it in a westerly 
direction to its end. South of them remains a portion of that section that stretches west in 
an oblong shape and contains the end of the country of the Kimak. 

The mountains, then, enter the ninth section at its northeastern border, soon turn 
north, and run due north to the ninth section of the sixth zone, where the Dam (of Gog and 
Magog) is situated, as we shall mention. There remains the portion that is surrounded by 
the Qufaya Mountains in the northeast corner of this section. It is oblong in shape and 
stretches southward. It belongs to the country of Gog. The tenth section of the fifth zone is 
entirely covered by the land of Gog, except for a portion of the Surrounding Sea which 
covers part of it in the east from south to north, and except for the portion that the Qufaya 
Mountains leave in the southwest on their way through the section. Everything else is the 
land of Gog. 


The sixth zone 

Half of the first section of the sixth zone is mostly covered by the sea, which 
stretches eastward in a curving line along the northern part, then runs southward along the 
eastern part, and ends near the southern part (of the section). A portion of land in this part 
is not covered by the sea. It is similar in shape to a peninsula, formed by two arms of the 
Surrounding Sea. It is long and wide. All this is the land of Brittany. At the entrance to it, 
between those two arms (of the sea) and in the southeast corner of this section, there is the 
country of Sees which is adjacent to the country of Poitou. (The country of Poitou) has 
been mentioned before in connection with the first and second sections of the fifth zone. 

The second section of the sixth zone is entered by the Surrounding Sea in the west 
and north. In the northwest, it covers an oblong portion (extending) over more than half 

(the south-north extension) of (the section), east 0 f Brittany (which was mentioned) in 
the first section. (This portion of the sea) connects with the other portion in the north (that 
extends) from west to east. It widens somewhat in the western half of (the section). There, 
a portion of the island of England is situated. It is a large, far-flung island which contains 
a number of cities and is the seat of a magnificent realm. The remainder of (England) lies 
in the seventh zone. South of and adjacent to this western part and the island located there, 
(and still) in the western half of this section, are the countries of Normandy and Flanders. 
Then, there is (northern) France in the southwest of this section, and, east of it, the country 


of Burgundy. All these countries belong to the European Christian nations. The eastern 
half of the section contains the country of the Germans (Alamanni). The south is taken up 
by the country of Aquileia, with the country of Burgundy farther north, and then the lands 
of Lorraine and Saxony. On a portion of the Surrounding Sea in the northeast corner, is the 
land of Frisia. All these countries belong to the German (Alamanni) nations. 

The western part of the third section of the sixth zone contains, in the south, the 

country of Bohemia,— and in the north, the country of Saxony. The eastern part contains, 
in the south, the country of Hungary, and in the north, the country of Poland. (Hungary 
and Poland) are separated by the Carpathian Mountains (Balwat). They come from the 
fourth section, run northwest, and eventually end in the country of Saxony at the boundary 
of the western half (of this section). 

The fourth section of the sixth zone, in the south, contains the country of 

Jathuliyah, 1 ^- and, in the north, the country of Russia. They are separated by the 
Carpathian Mountains, from the beginning of the section in the west to its end in the 
eastern half. East of the land of Jathuliyah is the country of Jarmaniyah. In the southeast 
corner, there is the land of Constantinople and the city of Constantinople at the end of the 
straits coming from the Mediterranean, where it connects with the Black Sea. A small 
portion of the Black Sea connecting with the straits appears in the southeast corner of the 

section. The corner between the straits and the Black Sea contains Musannah [?].12Q 

The fifth section of the sixth zone, in the south, contains the Black Sea, stretching 
due east from the straits at the end of the fourth section. It traverses the whole of this 
section and part of the sixth section, covering a distance (in length) of 1,300 miles from its 
beginning and (in width) of 600 miles. Beyond the Black Sea in the south of this section, 
there remains a piece of the mainland which is oblong in shape and stretches from west to 

east. The (western portion) of it contains Heracleia 121 on the shore of the Black Sea, (a 
city) adjacent to the country of al-Baylaqan in the fifth zone. In the east(ern portion) of it 
is the land of the Alans, with its principal place, Sinope, on the Black Sea. North of the 

Black Sea in this section is the land of the Bulgars (Burjan) 122 i n the west, and in the 
east the country of Russia. All (these countries) lie on the shores of the Black Sea. The 
country of Russia surrounds the country of the Bulgars (Burjan), (bordering it) in the 
east(ern portion) of this section, in the northern portion) of the fifth section of the seventh 
zone, and in the west(ern portion) of the fourth section of the sixth zone. 

The sixth section of the sixth zone contains in the west the remainder of the Black 
Sea, where it turns slightly north. Between the Black Sea and the northern boundary of the 

section is the country of the Comans. 122 Following the northward direction of the Black 
Sea, there is the remainder of the country of the Alans, which was at the southern end of 
the fifth section and which here becomes wider as it extends northwards. In the eastern 
part of this section, the land of the Khazars continues, and farther east lies the land of the 

Burtas.121 In the northeast corner is the land of the Bulgars (Bulghar). In the southeast 
corner is the land of Balanjar,122 which is there traversed by a portion of Mount 

Shiyah.122 These mountains follow (the coast of) the Caspian Sea later on in the seventh 
section, and, after separating from it, run west across this part (of the sixth section), and 
enter the sixth section of the fifth zone, where they are linked with the Mountains of the 
"Gates." The country of the Khazars lies on both sides of them. 

The seventh section of the sixth zone contains in the south an area that Mount 
Shiyah cuts across, to the western boundary of the section, after leaving the Caspian Sea. It 
is a portion of the country of the Khazars. East of (the country of the Khazars) is the 
portion of (the coast of) the Caspian Sea that is traversed by Mount (Shiyah) in the 
northeast. Beyond Mount Shiyah, in the northwest, is the land of the Burps. In the east(ern 

197 198 


portion) of the section is the land of the Bashqirs and the Pechenegs, Turkish 
nations. 

The entire southern part of the eighth section of (the sixth zone) is occupied by the 
land of the Khulukh Turks.— The northern region contains in the west the Stinking 

Land^QQ and, in the east, the land Gog and Magog are said to have laid waste before the 
Dam was constructed. In this Stinking Land, the Volga, one of the largest rivers in the 
world, originates. It passes through the country of the Turks and flows into the Caspian 
Sea in the seventh section of the fifth zone. The Volga makes many turnings. It originates 
in a mountain in the Stinking Land, from which three streams issue and unite to form one 
river. It flows due west to the boundary of the seventh section of the sixth zone and turns 
north into the seventh section of the seventh zone, where it flows along the southwestern 
boundary. It leaves the seventh zone in the sixth section, flows a short distance west, then 
turns south a second time, and returns to the sixth section of the sixth zone, where a 
branch comes out of it and flows westward into the Black Sea in that section. (The Volga 
itself next) passes through a portion of the country of the Bulgars (Bulghar) in the 
northeast, leaves the sixth zone in the seventh section to turn south a third time, flows 
through Mount Shiyah, traverses the country of the Khazars, and enters the fifth zone in 
the seventh section. There it flows into the Caspian Sea, in that portion of the southwest 
corner of the section which is not covered by the sea. 

The ninth section of the sixth zone, in the west, contains the country of the 

Khifshakh Turks-the Qipchaqs-and the country of the Turgish,— who are also Turks. In 
the east, it contains the country of Magog which is separated from the west by the afore- 
mentioned surrounding 201a Qufaya Mountains. They start at the Surrounding Sea in the 
eastern part of the fourth zone, and follow (the Surrounding Sea) to the northern boundary 
of the zone. There, they leave it and run northwesterly until they enter the ninth section of 
the fifth zone, where they return to their former due northerly course into the ninth section 
of (the sixth zone), which they cross from south to north, bearing a little to the west. 

There, in the middle of (the mountains), is the Dam built by Alexander. The mountains, 
then, continue due north into the ninth section of the seventh zone, which they traverse 
from the south on up to the Surrounding Sea in the north. They follow along it from there 
westward into the fifth section of the seventh zone, where they encounter a portion of the 
Surrounding Sea to the west. 

In the middle of this ninth section is the Dam built by Alexander, as we have said. 
Correct information about it is found in the Qur'an. 'Ubaydallah b. Khurradadhbih 
mentioned in his geographical work — that al-Wathiq saw in a dream that the Dam had 
opened. Frightened, he awakened and sent Salim (Sallam) the dragoman to investigate the 
Dam and to bring back information about it and a description of it, which he did. This is a 
long story that has nothing to do with the purpose of our work. 

The tenth section of the sixth zone is occupied by the country of Magog, extending 
to the end of (the section). There it borders on a portion of the Surrounding Sea which 
surrounds (the section) to the east and north. (This portion) is oblong in the north and 
widens somewhat in the east. 


The seventh zone 

The Surrounding Sea covers most of the seventh zone in the north (from the 
beginning) to the middle of the fifth section, where it touches the Qufaya Mountains that 
surround Gog and Magog. 

The first and second sections are covered by water, except for the portion not 
covered by water where the island of England is located, most of which lies in the second 
section. In the first section, there is a corner of England which extends towards the north. 


The remainder, with a portion of the sea that encircles it, lies in the second section of the 
sixth zone. It was mentioned there. The channel connecting England with the mainland is 
there twelve miles wide. Beyond the island of England, in the north of the second section, 

is the island of Raslandah— oblong in shape, stretching lengthwise from west to east. 

Most of the third section of the seventh zone is covered by water, except for an 
oblong portion in the south that is wider in its eastern part. Here, the land of Poland 
continues. It was mentioned in connection with the third section of the sixth zone, as lying 
in the north of it. In the western part of the portion of the sea covering this section, there 
lies a round, wide (island). It is connected with the mainland by an isthmus in the south, 

which leads to the land of Poland. North of it is the island of Norway, oblong in shape, 
which stretches lengthwise from west to east in the north (of the section). 

The fourth section of the seventh zone is entirely covered in the north by the 
Surrounding Sea from the western to the eastern (boundaries of the section). Its southern 

part is not covered by the sea. To the west, it contains the land of the Finland [?] 

Turks. To the east lies the country of Tavast,2Q£ followed by the land of Estonia [?] 
extending to the eastern boundary of the section. (Estonia) is permanently covered by snow 
and has little civilization. It borders on the country of Russia in the fourth and fifth 
sections of the sixth zone. 

The fifth section of the seventh zone contains in the west the country of Russia. In 

the north, (Russia) ^07a extends to where the portion of the Surrounding Sea and the 
Qufaya Mountains meet, as we have mentioned before. The eastern region of the section 
contains the continuation of the land of the Comans, which lies on (the shore of) a portion 

of the Black Sea in the sixth section of the sixth zone. It reaches the Lake of T-r-m-y 
in this section. This is a fresh- water lake into which drain many rivers from the mountains 

south and north of it. In the northeast of this section is the land of the Nabariyah 
Turks, which extends to the boundary of the section. 

The sixth section of the seventh zone contains in the southwest the continuation of 
the land of the Comans. In the middle of that region is Lake Gh-n-w-n.— This is a fresh- 
water lake into which drain the rivers from the mountains in the regions east of it. It is 
constantly frozen because of the severe cold, except for a short while during the summer. 
East of the country of the Comans is the country of Russia, which started in the northeast 
of the fifth section of the sixth zone. In the southeast corner of this (the sixth) section, is 
the remainder of the land of the Bulgars (Bulghar) that started in the northeastern part of 
the sixth section of the sixth zone. In the middle of this portion of the land of the Bulgars, 
there is the point where the Volga makes its first turn to the south, as has been mentioned. 
The Qufaya Mountains stretch all along the northern boundary of the sixth section from 
the west to the east. 

The seventh section of the seventh zone, in the west, contains the remainder of the 
land of the Pechenegs, a Turkish nation. Beginning in the northeastern part of the 
preceding sixth and southwest of this section, it then, in the south, enters the sixth zone. In 
the east, there is the remainder of the land of the Bashqirs, followed by the remainder of 
the Stinking Land, which extends to the eastern boundary of the section. The northern 
boundary of the section is formed by the surrounding Qufaya Mountains stretching (all 
along it) from the west to the east. 

The eighth section of the seventh zone contains in the southwest the continuation of 

the Stinking Land. East of it is the Sunken Land, a remarkable place. It is an immense 
opening in the earth, so deep that the bottom cannot be reached. The appearance of smoke 
during the day and of fire at night, which by turns flares up and disappears, leads to the 
conclusion that the place is inhabited. A river is occasionally seen there. It cuts through it 


from south to north. In the east of this section is the Waste Country, which borders the 
Dam. Across the northern limit of the section are the Qufaya Mountains, stretching all 
along it from the west to the east. 

The ninth section of the seventh zone contains in the west the country of the 
Khifshakh, that is, the Qipchaqs. It is traversed by the Qufaya Mountains where they turn 
away from the north (of the section) at the Surrounding Sea and run southeast through the 
middle (of the section). They then leave (this zone) for the ninth section of the sixth zone 
and pass across it. There, in the middle of them, is the Dam of Gog and Magog, which we 
have already mentioned. The eastern part of this section contains the land of Magog, 

behind the Qufaya Mountains, on the sea. It 211a j s not vei y w y e anc j j s 0 blong in shape 
and surrounds it in the east and north. 

The tenth section of the seventh zone is entirely covered by the sea. 

® 

This finishes the discussion of the world map with the seven zones. 

In the creation of heaven and earth and the difference between night and day, there 
are signs for those who know.— 


THIRD PREFATORY DISCUSSION 


The temperate and the intemperate zones. The inuence 
of the air upon the color of human beings and upon many 
(other) aspects of their condition. 


WE — HAVE EXPLAINED that the cultivated region of that part of the 
earth which is not covered by water has its center toward the north, because of the 
excessive heat in the south and the excessive cold in the north. The north and the 
south represent opposite extremes of cold and heat. It necessarily follows that there 
must be a gradual decrease from the extremes toward the center, which, thus, is 
moderate. The fourth zone is the most temperate cultivated region. 

The bordering third and fifth zones are rather close to being temperate. The 
sixth and second zones which are adjacent to them are far from temperate, and the 
first and seventh zones still less so. Therefore, the sciences, the crafts, the buildings, 
the clothing, the foodstuffs, the fruits, even the animals, and everything that comes 
into being in the three middle zones are distinguished by their temperate (well- 
proportioned character). The human inhabitants of these zones are more temperate 
(well-proportioned) in their bodies, color, character qualities, and (general) 

conditions— They are found to be extremely moderate in their dwellings, clothing, 
foodstuffs, and crafts. They use houses that are well constructed of stone and 
embellished by craftsmanship. They rival each other in production of the very best 
tools and implements. Among them, one finds the natural minerals, such as gold, 
silver, iron, copper, lead, and tin. In their business dealings they use the two 
precious metals (gold and silver). They avoid intemperance quite generally in all 
their conditions. Such are the inhabitants of the Maghrib, of Syria, the two 'Iraqs, 
Western India (as- Sind), and China, as well as of Spain; also the European 

Christians nearby, the Galicians, 2-L5 anc ] a ]] those who live together with these 
peoples or near them in the three temperate zones. The 'Iraq and Syria are directly in 
the middle and therefore are the most temperate of all these countries. 

The inhabitants of the zones that are far from temperate, such as the first, 
second, sixth, and seventh zones, are also farther removed from being temperate in 
all their conditions. Their buildings are of clay and reeds. Their foodstuffs are durra 
and herbs. Their clothing is the leaves of trees, which they sew together to cover 
themselves, or animal skins. Most of them go naked. The fruits and seasonings of 
their countries are strange and inclined to be intemperate. In their business dealings, 
they do not use the two noble metals, but copper, iron, or skins, upon which they set 
a value for the purpose of business dealings. Their qualities of character, moreover, 
are close to those of dumb animals. It has even been reported that most of the 
Negroes of the first zone dwell in caves and thickets, eat herbs, live in savage 

isolation and do not congregate, and eat each other.2-L6 The same applies to the 
Slavs. The reason for this is that their remoteness from being temperate produces in 
them a disposition and character similar to those of the dumb animals, and they 
become correspondingly remote from humanity. The same also applies to their 
religious conditions. They are ignorant of prophecy and do not have a religious law, 
except for the small minority that lives near the temperate regions. (This minority 
includes,) for instance, the Abyssinians, who are neighbors of the Yemenites and 
have been Christians from pre-Islamic and Islamic times down to the present; and 


the Mali, the Gawgaw, and the Takrur who live close to the Maghrib and, at this 
time, are Muslims. They are said to have adopted Islam in the seventh [thirteenth] 
century. Or, in the north, there are those Slav, European Christian, and Turkish 
nations that have adopted Christianity. All the other inhabitants of the intemperate 
zones in the south and in the north are ignorant of all religion. (Religious) 
scholarship is lacking among them. All their conditions are remote from those of 
human beings and close to those of wild animals. "And He creates what you do not 
know." m 

The (foregoing statement) is not contradicted by the existence of the Yemen, 
the Hadramawt, al-Ahqaf, the Hijaz, the Yamimah, and adjacent regions of the 

Arabian Peninsula in the first and second zones. As we have mentioned, the 
Arabian Peninsula is surrounded by the sea on three sides. The humidity of ( the sea) 
influences the humidity in the air of ( the Arabian Peninsula). This diminishes the 
dryness and intemperance that (otherwise) the heat would cause. Because of the 
humidity from the sea, the Arabian Peninsula is to some degree temperate. 

Genealogists who had no knowledge of the true nature of things imagined 
that Negroes are the children of Ham, the son of Noah, and that they were singled 
out to be black as the result of Noah's curse, which produced Ham's color and the 

slavery God inflicted upon his descendants. It is mentioned in the Torah that 
Noah cursed his son Ham. No reference is made there to blackness. The curse 
included no more than that Ham's descendants should be the slaves of his brothers' 
descendants. To attribute the blackness of the Negroes to Ham, reveals disregard of 
the true nature of heat and cold and of the influence they exercise upon the air 
(climate) and upon the creatures that come into being in it. The black color (of skin) 
common to the inhabitants of the first and second zones is the result of the 
composition of the air in which they live, and which comes about under the 
influence of the greatly increased heat in the south. The sun is at the zenith there 
twice a year at short intervals. In (almost) all seasons, the sun is in culmination for a 

long time. The light of the sun, therefore, is plentiful. People there have (to 
undergo) a very severe summer, and their skins turn black because of the excessive 
heat. Something similar happens in the two corresponding zones to the north, the 
seventh and sixth zones. There, a white color (of skin) is common among the 
inhabitants, likewise the result of the composition of the air in which they live, and 
which comes about under the influence of the excessive cold in the north. The sun is 
always on the horizon within the visual field (of the human observer), or close to it. 

It never ascends to the zenith, nor even (gets) close to it. The heat, therefore, is weak 
in this region, and the cold severe in (almost) all seasons. In consequence, the color 
of the inhabitants is white, and they tend to have little body hair. Further 
consequences of the excessive cold are blue eyes, freckled skin, and blond hair. 

The fifth, fourth, and third zones occupy an intermediate position. They have 
an abundant share of temperance— which is the golden mean. The fourth zone, 
being the one most nearly in the center, is as temperate as can be. We have 

mentioned that before.— The physique and character of its inhabitants are 
temperate to the (high) degree necessitated by the composition of the air in which 
they live. The third and fifth zones lie on either side of the fourth, but they are less 
centrally located. They are closer to the hot south beyond the third zone and the cold 
north beyond the fifth zone. However, they do not become intemperate. 

The four other zones are intemperate, and the physique and character of their 
inhabitants show it. The first and second zones are excessively hot and black, and 
the sixth and seventh zones cold and white. The inhabitants of the first and second 
zones in the south are called the Abyssinians, the Zanj, and the Sudanese (Negroes). 


These are synonyms used to designate the (particular) nation that has turned black. 
The name "Abyssinians," however, is restricted to those Negroes who live opposite 
Mecca and the Yemen, and the name "Zanj" is restricted to those who live along the 
Indian Sea. These names are not given to them because of an (alleged) descent from 
a black human being, be it Ham or any one else. Negroes from the south who settle 
in the temperate fourth zone or in the seventh zone that tends toward whiteness, are 
found to produce descendants whose color gradually turns white in the course of 
time. Vice versa, inhabitants from the north or from the fourth zone who settle in 
the south produce descendants whose color turns black. This shows that color is 
conditioned by the composition of the air. In his rajaz poem on medicine, Avicenna 
said: 

Where the Zanj live is a heat that changes their bodies 

Until their skins are covered all over with black. 

The Slavs acquire whiteness 

Until their skins turn soft.— 

The inhabitants of the north are not called by their color, because the people 
who established the conventional meanings of words were themselves white. Thus, 
whiteness was something usual and common (to them), and they did not see 
anything sufficiently remarkable in it to cause them to use it as a specific term. 
Therefore, the inhabitants of the north, the Turks, the Slavs, the Tughuzghuz,— the 
Khazars, the Alans, most of the European Christians, the Gog and Magog are found 

r ) r )Cl 

to be separate nations and numerous races called by a variety of names. 

The inhabitants of the middle zones are temperate in their physique and 
character and in their ways of life. They have all the natural conditions necessary for 
a civilized life, such as ways of making a living, dwellings, crafts, sciences, political 
leadership, and royal authority. They thus have had (various manifestations of) 
prophecy, religious groups, dynasties, religious laws, sciences, countries, cities, 
buildings, horticulture, splendid crafts, and everything else that is temperate. 

Now, among the inhabitants of these zones about whom we have historical 
information are, for instance, the Arabs, the Byzantines (Rum), the Persians, the 

Israelites, the Greeks, the Indians, and the Chinese. When — genealogists noted 
differences between these nations, their distinguishing marks and characteristics, 
they considered these to be due to their (different) descents. They declared all the 
Negro inhabitants of the south to be descendants of Ham. They had misgivings 
about their color and therefore undertook to report the afore-mentioned silly story. 
They declared all or most of the inhabitants of the north to be the descendants of 
Japheth, and they declared most of the temperate nations, who inhabit the central 
regions, who cultivate the sciences and crafts, and who possess religious groups and 
religious laws as well as political leadership and royal authority, to be the 
descendants of Shem. Even if the genealogical construction were correct, it would 
be the result of mere guesswork, not of cogent, logical argumentation. It would 
merely be a statement of fact. It would not imply that the inhabitants of the south are 
called "Abyssinians" and "Negroes" because they are descended from "black" Ham. 
The genealogists were led into this error by their belief that the only reason for 
differences between nations is in their descent. This is not so. Distinctions between 
races or nations are in some cases due to a different descent, as in the case of the 
Arabs, the Israelites, and the Persians. In other cases, they are caused by 
geographical location and (physical) marks, as in the case of the Zanj (Negroes), the 
Abyssinians, the Slavs, and the black (Sudanese) Negroes. Again, in other cases, 
they are caused by custom and distinguishing characteristics, as well as by descent, 
as in the case of the Arabs. Or, they may be caused by anything else among the 
conditions, qualities, and features peculiar to the different nations. But to generalize 


and say that the inhabitants of a specific geographical location in the south or in the 
north are the descendants of such-and-such a well-known person because they have 
a common color, trait, or (physical) mark which that (alleged) forefather had, is one 
of those errors which are caused by disregard, (both) of the true nature of created 
beings and of geographical facts. (There also is disregard of the fact that the physical 
circumstances and environment) are subject to changes that affect later generations; 
they do not necessarily remain unchanged. 

This is how God proceeds with His servants. And verily, you will not be able 
to change God's way.— 


FOURTH PREFATORY DISCUSSION 


The influence of the air (climate) upon human character. 


WE HAVESEEN that Negroes are in general characterized by 
levity, excitability, and great emotionalism. They are found eager to dance whenever 
they hear a melody.— They are everywhere described as stupid. The real reason for 
these (opinions) is that, as has been shown by philosophers in the proper place, joy 
and gladness are due to expansion and diffusion of the animal spirit. Sadness is due 
to the opposite, namely, contraction and concentration of the animal spirit. It has 
been shown that heat expands and rarefies air and vapors and increases their 
quantity. A drunken person experiences inexpressible joy and gladness, because the 
vapor of the spirit in his heart is pervaded by natural heat, which the power of the 
wine generates in his spirit. The spirit, as a result, expands, and there is joy. 
Likewise, when those who enjoy a hot bath inhale the air of the bath, so that the heat 
of the air enters their spirits and makes them hot, they are found to experience joy. It 
often happens that they start singing, as singing has its origin in gladness. 

Now, Negroes live in the hot zone (of the earth). Heat dominates their 
temperament and formation. Therefore, they have in their spirits an amount of heat 
corresponding to that in their bodies and that of the zone in which they live. In 
comparison with the spirits of the inhabitants of the fourth zone, theirs are hotter 
and, consequently, more expanded. As a result, they are more quickly moved to joy 
and gladness, and they are merrier. Excitability is the direct consequence. 

In the same way, the inhabitants of coastal regions are somewhat similar to 
the inhabitants of the south. The air in which they live is very much hotter because 
of the reflection of the light and the rays of (the sun from) the surface of the sea. 
Therefore, their share in the qualities resulting from heat, that is, joy and levity, is 
larger than that of the (inhabitants of) cold and hilly or mountainous countries. To a 
degree, this may be observed in the inhabitants of the Jarid in the third zone. The 
heat is abundant in it and in the air there, since it lies south of the coastal plains and 
hills. Another example is furnished by the Egyptians. Egypt lies at about the same 
latitude as the Jarid. The Egyptians are dominated by joyfulness, levity, and 
disregard for the future. They store no provisions of food, neither for a month nor a 
year ahead, but purchase most of it (daily) in the market. Fez in the Maghrib, on the 
other hand, lies inland (and is) surrounded by cold hills. Its inhabitants can be 
observed to look sad and gloomy and to be too much concerned for the future. 
Although a man in Fez might have provisions of wheat stored, sufficient to last him 
for years, he always goes to the market early to buy his food for the day, because he 
is afraid to consume any of his hoarded food. 

If one pays attention to this sort of thing in the various zones and countries, 
the influence of the varying quality of the air upon the character (of the inhabitants) 

will become apparent. God is "the Creator, the Knowing One." — Al-Masudi 
undertook to investigate the reason for the levity, excitability, and emotionalism in 
Negroes, and attempted to explain it. However, he did no better than to report, on 
the authority of Galen and Ya'qub b. Ishaq alKind!, that the reason is a weakness of 

231 


their brains which results in a weakness of their intellect. This is an inconclusive 
and unproven statement. "God guides whomever He wants to guide." — 


FIFTH PREFATORY DISCUSSION 


Differences with regard to abundance and scarcity of 
food in the various inhabited regions (’umran) and how 
they affect the human body and character. 


IT — SHOULD BE KNOWN that not all the temperate zones have an 
abundance of food, nor do all their inhabitants lead a comfortable life. In some 
parts, the inhabitants enjoy an abundance of grain, seasonings, wheat, and fruits, 
because the soil is well balanced and good for plants and there is an abundant 
civilization. And then, in other parts, the land is strewn with rocks, and no seeds or 
herbs grow at all. There, the inhabitants have a very hard time. Instances of such 
people are the inhabitants of the Hijaz and the Yemen, or the Veiled Sinhajah who 
live in the desert of the Maghrib on the fringes of the sandy deserts which lie be- 
tween the Berbers and the Sudanese Negroes. All of them lack all grain and 
seasonings. Their nourishment and food is milk and meat. Another such people is 
the Arabs who roam the waste regions. They may get grain and seasonings from the 
hills, but this is the case only at certain times and is possible only under the eyes of 
the militia which protects (the hill country). Whatever they get is little, because they 
have little money. They obtain no more than the bare necessity, and sometimes less, 
and in no case enough for a comfortable or abundant life. They are mostly found 
restricted to milk, which is for them a very good substitute for wheat. In spite of 
this, the desert people who lack grain and season 

body and better in character than the hill people who have plenty of everything. 
Their complexions are clearer, their bodies cleaner, their figures more perfect and 
better, their characters less intemperate, and their minds keener as far as knowledge 
and perception are concerned. This is attested by experience in all these groups. 
There is a great difference in this respect between the Arabs and Berbers (on the one 
hand), and the Veiled (Berbers) — and the inhabitants of the hills (on the other). 
This fact is known to those who have investigated the matter. 

As to the reason for it, it may be tentatively suggested that a great amount of 
food and the moisture it contains generate pernicious superfluous matters in the 
body, which, in turn, produce a disproportionate widening of the body, as well as 
many corrupt, putrid humors. The result is a pale complexion and an ugly figure, 
because the person has too much flesh, as we have stated. When the moisture with 
its evil vapors ascends to the brain, the mind and the ability to think are dulled. The 
result is stupidity, carelessness, and a general intemperance. This can be 
exemplified by comparing the animals of waste regions and barren habitats, such as 
gazelles, wild cows (maha), ostriches, giraffes, onagers, and (wild) buffaloes (cows, 
bagar), with their counterparts among the animals that live in hills, coastal plains, 
and fertile pastures. There is a big difference between them with regard to the 
glossiness of their coat, their shape and appearance, the proportions of their limbs, 
and their sharpness of perception.— The gazelle is the counterpart of the goat, and 
the giraffe that of the camel; the onagers and (wild) buffaloes (cows) are identical 
with (domestic) donkeys and oxen (and cows). Still, there is a wide difference 
between them. The only reason for it is the fact that the abundance of food in the 
hills produces pernicious superfluous matters and corrupt humors in the bodies of 
the domestic animals, the influence of which shows on them. Hunger, on the other 


hand, may greatly improve the physique and shape of the animals of the waste 
regions. 

The same observations apply to human beings. We find that the inhabitants 
of fertile zones where the products of agriculture and animal husbandry as well as 
seasonings and fruits are plentiful, are, as a rule, described as stupid in mind and 
coarse in body. This is the case with those Berbers who have plenty of seasonings 
and wheat, as compared with those who lead a frugal life and are restricted to barley 
or durra, such as the Masmudah Berbers and the inhabitants of as-Sus and the 
Ghumarah. The latter are superior both intellectually and physically. The same 
applies in general to the inhabitants of the Maghrib who have plenty of seasonings 
and fine wheat, as compared with the inhabitants of Spain in whose country butter is 
altogether lacking and whose principal food is durra. The Spaniards are found to 
have a sharpness of intellect, a nimbleness of body, and a receptivity for instruction 
such as no one else has. The same also applies to the inhabitants of rural regions of 
the Maghrib as compared with the inhabitants of settled areas and cities. Both use 
many seasonings and live in abundance, but the town dwellers only use them after 
they have been prepared and cooked and softened by admixtures. They thus lose 
their heaviness and become less substantial. Principal foods are the meat of sheep 
and chickens. They do not use butter because of its tastelessness. Therefore the 
moisture in their food is small, and it brings only a few pernicious superfluous 
matters into their bodies. Consequendy, the bodies of the urban population are found 
to be more delicate than those of the inhabitants of the desert who live a hard life. 
Likewise, those inhabitants of the desert who are used to hunger are found to have 
in their bodies no superfluous matters, thick or thin. 

It should be known that the influence of abundance upon the body is 
apparent even in matters of religion and divine worship. The frugal inhabitants of 
the desert and those of settled areas who have accustomed themselves to hunger and 
to abstinence from pleasures are found to be more religious and more ready for 
divine worship than people who live in luxury and abundance. Indeed, it can be 
observed that there are few religious people in towns and cities, in as much as 
people there are for the most part obdurate and careless, which is connected with the 
use of much meat, seasonings, and fine wheat. The existence of pious men and 
ascetics is, therefore, restricted to the desert, whose inhabitants eat frugally. 

Likewise, the condition of the inhabitants within a single city can be observed to 
differ according to the different distribution of luxury and abundance. 

It can also be noted that those people who, whether they inhabit the desert or 
settled areas and cities, live a life of abundance and have all the good things to eat, 
die more quickly than others when a drought or famine comes upon them. This is the 
case, for instance, with the Berbers of the Maghrib and the inhabitants of the city of 
Fez and, as we hear, of Egypt (Cairo). It is not so with the Arabs who inhabit waste 
regions and deserts, or with the inhabitants of regions where the date palm grows 
and whose principal food is dates, or with the present-day inhabitants of Ifriqiyah 
whose principal food is barley and olive oil, or with the inhabitants of Spain whose 
principal food is durra and olive oil. When a drought or a famine strikes them, it 
does not kill as many of them as of the other group of people, and few, if any, die of 
hunger. As a reason for that, it may tentatively be suggested that the stomachs of 
those who have everything in abundance and are used to seasonings and, in 
particular, to butter, acquire moisture in addition to their basic constitutional 
moisture, and (the moisture they are used to) eventually becomes excessive. Then, 
when (eating) habits are thwarted by small quantities of food, by lack of seasonings, 
and by the use of coarse food to which it is unaccustomed, the stomach, which is a 
very weak part of the body and for that reason considered one of the vital parts, 
soon dries out and contracts. Sickness and sudden death are prompt consequences to 



the man whose stomach is in this condition. Those who die satiation, not of the 
hunger that now afflicts them for the first time. In those who are accustomed to thirst 

r, 

and to doing without seasonings and butter, the basic moisture, which is good 
for all natural foods, always stays within its proper limits and does not increase. 

Thus, their stomachs are not affected by dryness or intemperance in consequence of 
a change of nourishment. As a rule, they escape the fate that awaits others on 
account of the abundance of their food and the great amount of seasonings in it. 

The basic thing to know is that foodstuffs, and whether to use or not to use 
them, are matters of custom. Whoever accustoms himself to a particular type of food 
that agrees with him becomes used to it. He finds it painful to give it up or to make 
any changes (in his diet), provided (the type of food) is not something that does not 

fulfill the (real) purpose of food, such as poison, or alkaloids, 0 r anything 
excessively intemperate. Whatever can be used as food and is agreeable may be 
used as customary food. If a man accustoms himself to the use of milk and 
vegetables instead of wheat, until (the use of them) gets to be his custom, milk and 
vegetables become for him (his habitual) food, and he definitely has no longer any 
need for wheat or grains. 

The same applies to those who have accustomed themselves to suffer hunger 
and do without food. Such things are reported about trained (ascetics). We hear 
remarkable things about men of this type. Those who have no knowledge of things 
of the sort can scarcely believe them. The explanation lies in custom. Once the soul 
gets used to something, it becomes part of its make-up and nature, because (the soul) 
is able to take on many colorings. If through gradual training it has become used to 
hunger, (hunger) becomes a natural custom of the soul. 

The assumption of physicians that hunger causes death is not correct, except 
when a person is exposed suddenly to hunger and is entirely cut off from food. 

Then, the stomach is isolated, and contracts an illness that may be fatal. When, 
however, the amount of food one eats is slowly decreased by gradual training, there 
is no danger of death. The adepts of Sufism practice (such gradual abstinence from 
food). Gradualness is also necessary when one gives up the training. Were a person 
suddenly to return to his original diet, he might die. Therefore, he must end the 
training as he started it, that is, gradually. 

We personally saw a person who had taken no food for forty or more 

consecutive days. Our shaykhs were present at the court of Sultan Abul-Hasan 22Z 
when two women from Algeciras and Ronda were presented to him, who had for 
years abstained from all food. Their story became known. They were examined, and 
the matter was found to be correct. The women continued this way until they died. 
Many persons we used to know restricted themselves to (a diet of) goat's milk. They 

drank from the udder sometime during the day or at breakfast. 237a xpjg was their 
only food for fifteen years. There are many others (who live similarly). It should not 
be considered unlikely. 

It should be known that everybody who is able to suffer hunger or eat only 
little, is physically better off if he stays hungry than if he eats too much. Hunger has 
a favorable influence on the health and well-being of body and intellect, as we have 
stated. This may be exemplified by the different influence of various kinds of food 
upon the body. We observe that those persons who live on the meat of strong, large- 
bodied animals grow up as a (strong and large-bodied) race. Comparison of the 
inhabitants of the desert with those of settled areas shows this. The same applies to 
persons who live on the milk and meat of camels. This influences their character, so 
that they become patient, persevering, and able to carry loads, as is the case with 

camels.— Their stomachs also grow to be healthy and tough as the stomachs of 


camels. They are not beset by any feebleness or weakness, nor are they affected by 
unwholesome food, as others are. They may take strong (alkaloid) cathartics 
unadulterated to purify their bellies, such as, for instance, unripe colocynths, 

Thapsia garganica, and Euphorbia. Their stomachs do not suffer any harm from 
them. But if the inhabitants of settled areas, whose stomachs have become delicate 
because of their soft diet, were to partake of them, death would come to them 
instantly, because (these cathartics) have poisonous qualities. 

An indication of the influence of food upon the body is a fact that has been 

mentioned by agricultural scholars 2^2 and observed by men of experience, that 
when the eggs of chickens which have been fed on grain cooked in camel dung, are 
set to hatch, the chicks come out as large as can be imagined. One does not even 
have to cook any grain to feed them; one merely smears camel dung on the eggs set 
to hatch, and the chickens that come out are extremely large. There are many similar 
things. 

When we observe the various ways in which food exercises an influence 
upon bodies, there can be no doubt that hunger also exercises an influence upon 
them, because two opposites follow the same pattern with regard to exercising an 
influence or not exercising an influence. Hunger influences the body in that it keeps 
it free from corrupt superfluities and mixed fluids that destroy body and intellect, in 
the same way that food influenced the (original) existence of the body. 

God is omniscient. 


SIXTH PREFATORY DISCUSSION 


The various types of human beings who have 
supernatural perception either through natural disposition or 
through exercise, preceded by a discussion of inspiration 
and dream visions. 


IT SHOULD BE KNOWN that God has chosen certain individuals. He 
honored them by addressing (them). He created them so that they might know Him. 
He made them connecting links between Himself and His servants. (These 
individuals) are to acquaint their fellow men with what is good for them and to urge 
them to let themselves be guided aright. They are to make it their task to keep (their 
fellow men) out of the fire of Hell and to show them the path to salvation. The 
knowledge that God gave these individuals, and the wonders He manifested through 
their statements, indicated that there exist things beyond the reach of man, that can 
be learned only from God through the mediation of (these individuals), and that 
(these individuals themselves) cannot know unless God instructs them in them. 
Muhammad said: "Indeed, I know only what God taught me." It should be known 
that the information they give is intrinsically and necessarily true, as will become 
clear when the reality of prophecy is explained. 

The sign by which this type of human being can be recognized is that, in the 
state of inspiration, they seem to be removed from those who are present. This is 
accompanied by a feeling of being choked that looks like swooning or 

unconsciousness but has nothing to do with either. 239a j n re al ity, it is an immersion 
in (and) encounter with the spiritual kingdom, the result of perceptions congenial to 
them but entirely foreign to the (ordinary) perceptions of men. (These extraordinary 
perceptions) are then brought down to the level of human perceptions in the form of 
some speech sound the person (who receives the revelation) hears and is able to to 
understand, or in the form of an individual delivering the divine message to him. 
This state (of remoteness) then leaves him, but he retains the content of the given 
revelation. When Muhammad was asked about revelation, he said: "At times, it 
comes to me like the ringing of a bell. This affects me most. When it leaves me, I 
have retained what was said. At other times, the angel appears to me in the form of a 

man. He talks to me, and I retain the things he says."24Q During that (process, the 
person who receives the revelation) shows inexplicable signs of strain and choking. 
A tradition says: "There was some anxiety in connection with the revelation that he 
had to calm."— 'A'ishah said: "The revelation would come to him on very cold days. 
Nevertheless, when it left him, there was sweat on his forehead. "242-God says in the 
Qur'an: "We shall lay upon you a heavy message." — 

Because the act of receiving revelations leads to such conditions, the 
polytheists used to accuse the prophets of being possessed (by jinn). They said: "He 
has a jinni as his doubleganger, or companion." The outward appearance of the 

condition they observed misled them. "He whom God leads astray has no guide." — 

Another sign by which inspired human beings can be recognized is the fact 
that (even) before receiving revelations, they are good, innocent, and averse to any 
blameworthy, sinful action. This is what is meant by 'ismah (immunity from sin and 
error, infallibility). It looks as if, by nature, they were disposed to avoid and shun 


blameworthy actions, and as if such actions were the negation of their very nature. 
According to (the sound tradition of) the Sahih, when Muhammad was a young man 
he carried stones with his uncle al- 'Abbas for the restoration of the Ka'bah. He was 
carrying them in his cloak, and thus, he was undressed. (As this was unbecoming,) 

he fell down in a swoon that lasted until he was covered with his cloak.245 (On 
another occasion,) he was invited to a wedding party where there was much 
merrymaking. He fell fast asleep, and slept until the sun rose. Thus, he had nothing 
to do with the things the others did on that occasion. God kept him from all that. It 
was his nature. He even avoided food that was considered objectionable. Thus, he 
never touched onions or garlic. When he was asked about it, he said: "I 

communicate with One with whom you do not communicate." — 

Attention should be paid (in this connection) to what Muhammad told 
Khadijah about the revelation when he first experienced it, and she wanted to know 
what it was like. She asked him to embrace her, and when he did so, it left him. 
Khadijah, thereupon, said that it was an angel, and not a devil, meaning that (a devil) 
would not come close to a woman. She also asked him what garments he liked best 
(for the angel) to wear during the revelation, and he replied, "White and green ones." 
Whereupon Khadijah said that it was an angel, meaning that green and white are the 
colors of goodness and of the angels. Black, on the other hand, is the color of evil 
and of the devils. There are other such stories. 

Another sign by which (inspired human beings can be recognized) is the fact 
that they make propaganda for religion and divine worship by means of prayer, 
almsgiving, and chastity. Khadijah, as well as Abu Bakr, took that (conduct) as 
proof of Muhammad's truthfulness. They did not need any further proof of his 
mission beyond his conduct and character. According to (the sound tradition of) the 
Sahih, when Heraclius received the Prophet's letter in which he was asked to 
become a Muslim, he is said to have called the Qurashites who could be found in 
his country, among them Abu Sufyan, and to have asked them about Muhammad's 
condition. One of the questions he asked concerned the things Muhammad 
commanded them to do. Abu Sufyan's reply was: "Prayer, almsgiving, gifts, and 
chastity." Similar replies were given to all the other questions Heraclius asked. 
Heraclius' comment was: "If it is all really as you say, he is a prophet and he will 

take possession of this very ground upon which I am standing." 242 The "chastity" 
to which Heraclius referred is 'ismah (immunity from sin and error, infallibility). It 
is worth noting that Heraclius considered 'ismah and propaganda for religion and 
divine worship as proofs of the genuineness of a prophetical mission, and did not 
require a miracle. This story, therefore, is proof that these qualities are among the 
signs of prophecy. 

Another sign by which (inspired human beings can be recognized) is the fact 
that they have prestige among their people. According to (the sound tradition of) the 

Sahih, God "sent no prophet who did not enjoy the protection of his people." 248 
Another recension reads: ". . . who did not enjoy wealth among his people." 249 

This is al-Hakim's correction of the two Sahihs — According to (the sound tradition 
of) the Sahih, Abu Sufyan replied to Heraclius' question concerning Muhammad's 
standing among the Qurashites, (by saying) that he had prestige among them. 
Whereupon Heraclius said, "Whenever messengers are sent, they have prestige 

among their people." 251 That means that (such a man) has group feeling and 
influence which protect him from harm at the hands of unbelievers, until he has 
delivered the messages of his Lord and achieved the degree of complete perfection 
with respect to his religion and religious organization that God intended for him. 

252 


Another sign by which (inspired human beings can be recognized) is that 

they work wonders which attest to their truthfulness. "Wonders" — are actions the 
like of which it is impossible for other human beings to achieve. They are, therefore, 
called "miracles." They are not within the ability of men, but beyond their power. 
There is a difference of opinion as to how they occur and as to how they prove the 
truth of the prophets. Speculative theologians base themselves on the doctrine of the 

"voluntary agent" ^54 anc [ sa y t hat m i rac les occur through the power of God, and 
not through the action of the prophet. The Mu'tazilah maintain that human actions 
proceed from man himself. Still, miracles do not belong to the type of actions that 
human beings perform. According to all (schools), the prophet's place in the 

performance of miracles is (circumscribed by) the "advance challenge" ( tahaddi ) — 
which he offers by divine permission. That is, the prophet uses the miracles before 
they occur as proof of the truth of his claims. They thus take the place of an explicit 
statement from God to the effect that a particular prophet is truthful, and they are 
definite proof of the truth. An evidential miracle is the combination of a "wonder" 
and the "advance challenge" ( tahaddi ) that (announces) it. Therefore, the latter 
constitutes part of the miracle. 

The notion of the speculative theologians (concerning the "voluntary agent") 
is self-explanatory. (The "voluntary agent") is (just) one. For they hold that 

"essential" means (being just one).^^ 1 According to the notion of the speculative 
theologians, the "advance challenge" ( tahaddi ) is what makes the difference between 
(miracles, on the one hand), and acts of divine grace and sorcery (on the other), 
since (the latter) two need no confirmation of their truthfulness. The "advance 
challenge" (if it occurs at all in these cases) exists (in them) only by chance. 

In the opinion of those who admit the existence of acts of divine grace, if an 
"advance challenge" ( tahaddi ) occurs in connection with them, and if it is proof of 
them, it is proof only of saintliness, which is different from prophecy. This is why 

Professor Abu Ishaq and others did not admit the occurrence of wonders as acts 
of divine grace. They wanted to avoid confusion between the "advance challenge" 

( tahaddi ) of the saint and prophecy. We, however, have (just) shown that there is a 
difference between the two. The "advance challenge" ( tahaddi ) of a saint is 
concerned with other things than that of a prophet. There can be no doubt that the 
report on the authority of Professor Abu Ishaq is not clear and has often led to 
denial of (the possibility) that the wonders of the prophets could have been wrought 
by (saints), on the grounds that each of the two groups has its own kind of wonders. 

The Mu'tazilah do not admit the occurrence of acts of divine grace, because 
wonders do not belong to the actions of man that are customary and allow of no 
break (in the customary process). 

It is absurd to believe that miracles could be produced fraudulently by a liar. 
According to the Ash'arites, this is absurd because the essential part of a miracle is 
defined as "confirmation of truthfulness and right guidance." Were a miracle to 
occur under the contrary conditions, proof would become doubt, guidance 
misguidance, and, I might add, the confirmation of truthfulness, untruth. Realities 
would become absurdities, and the essential qualities would be turned upside down. 

Something, the occurrence of which would be absurd, cannot be possible. ^2. 

According to the Mu'tazilah, fraudulent miracles are absurd, because it is 
improper for proofs to turn into doubts and for guidance to turn into misguidance. 
Such, therefore, could not come from God. 

The philosophers hold that wonders are acts of the prophet (who performs 
them, even though they have no place in the power (of the prophet himself). This is 


based upon their doctrine that (there exists) an essential and necessary (causality) 
and that events develop out of each other according to conditions and reasons that 
(always) come up anew and, in the last instance, go back to the Necessary per se 
that acts per se and not by choice. In their opinion, the prophetical soul has special 
essential qualities which produce wonders, with the help of the power of (the 
Necessary per se) and the obedience of the elements to Him for purposes of 
generation. (The role of) the prophet (in this process), in their opinion, is that 
through those qualities that God put into him, he is by nature fitted for being active 
among (all) created things, whenever he addresses himself to them and concentrates 
on them. They hold that wonders are wrought by the prophet (himself), whether 
there is an "advance challenge" ( tahaddi ) or not. They are evidence of the prophet's 
truthfulness, in as much as they prove that he is active among the created things, 
such activity constituting a special quality of the prophetic soul, not because they 
take the place of a clear assertion of his truthfulness. In their opinion, therefore, 
(wonders) are no definitive proof (of the prophet's truthfulness), as they are in the 
opinion of the speculative theologians. "Advance awareness," for them, does not 
constitute part of the miracle. It does not stand out as the thing that differentiates 
(miracles) from acts of divine grace. They hold that (miracles) are differentiated 
from sorcery by the fact that a prophet is by nature fitted for good actions and averse 
to evil deeds. Therefore, he could not do evil through the wonders he works. The 
opposite is the case with the sorcerer. All his actions are evil and done for evil 

purposes. 20S Further, (miracles) are differentiated from acts of divine grace by the 
fact that the wonders of a prophet are of an unusual character, such as ascending to 
heaven, passing through solid bodies, reviving the dead, conversing with angels, and 

flying through the air .202 The wonders of a saint, on the other hand, are of a lower 
order, such as making much out of little, speaking about something that will happen 
in the future, and similar things inferior to the power of action of prophets. A 
prophet can produce the wonders of saints, but a saint is not able to produce 
anything like the wonders of prophets. This has been confirmed by the Sufis in what 
they have written about the mystic path and reported of their ecstatic experiences. 

Now that this has been established, it should be known that the evidence of 
the noble Qur'an, which was revealed to our Prophet, is the greatest, noblest, and 
clearest miracle. Wonders are as a rule wrought by a prophet separately and apart 
from the revelation he receives. The miracle comes as evidence for it(s truthfulness). 
This is obvious. The Qur'an, on the other hand, is in itself the claimed revelation. It 
is itself the wondrous miracle. It is its own proof. It requires no outside proof, as do 
the other wonders wrought in connection with revelations. It is the clearest proof 
that can be, because it unites in itself both the proof and what is to be proved. This 
is the meaning of Muhammad's statement, "Every prophet was given signs likely to 
provide reassurance for mankind. What I have been given is a revelation that was 
revealed to me. Therefore, I hope to have the greatest number of followers on the 

day of resurrection." 259a re f ers t0 the fact that a miracle which is identical with 
the revelation (confirmed by it), is of such clarity and force of evidence that it will 
be found truthful, because of its clarity, by the greatest number of people. Therefore, 
many are those who consider (the Prophet) truthful and believe. They are the 
"followers," the nation of Islam. 

And God, praised be He, knows better. 

All 260 thi s indicates that the Qur'an is alone among the divine books, in that 

our Prophet received it directly 201 i n the words and phrases in which it appears. In 
this respect, it differs from the Torah, the Gospel, and other heavenly books. The 
prophets received them in the form of ideas during the state of revelation. After their 


return to a human state, they expressed those ideas in their own ordinary words. 

Therefore, those books do not have "inimitability." — Inimitability is restricted to 
the Qur'an. The other prophets received their books in a manner similar to that in 
which our Prophet received (certain) ideas that he attributed to God, such as are 

found in many traditions. 2£2 The fact that he received the Qur'an directly, in its 
literal form, is attested by the following statement of Muhammad on the authority of 
his Lord who said: "Do not set your tongue in motion to make haste with (the 
revelation of the Qur'an). It is up to us to put it together and to recite it." — 

The reason for the revelation of these verses was Muhammad's haste to study 
the (Qur'anic) verses, because he feared that he might forget (them), and because he 
wished to keep the directly and literally revealed text in memory. God guaranteed 
him that He (Himself) would "keep" it in the following verse: "We revealed the 

reminder, and we are keeping it. "265 me aning of "keeping" which is 

peculiar to the Qur'an. The meaning of it is not what the common people think. 
(Their opinion) is far off the mark. 

Many verses of the Qur'an show that He directly and literally revealed the 
Qur'an, of which every surah is inimitable. Our Prophet wrought no greater miracle 
than the Qur'an and the fact that he united the Arabs in his mission. "If you had 
expended all the treasures on earth, you would have achieved no unity among them. 
But God achieved unity among them." — 

This should be known. It should be pondered. It will then be found to be 
correct, exactly as I have stated. One should also consider the evidence that lies in 
the superiority of Muhammad's rank over that of the other prophets and in the 
exaltedness of his position. 

We shall now give an explanation of the real meaning of prophecy as 
interpreted by many thorough scholars. We shall then mention the real meaning of 
soothsaying, dream vision, divination, and other supernatural ways of perception. 

We say: 


( The real meaning of prophecy) 

It — should be known that we-May God guide you and us — notice that 
this world with all the created things in it has a certain order and solid construction. 
It shows nexuses between causes and things caused, combinations of some parts of 
creation with others, and transformations of some existent things into others, in a 
pattern that is both remarkable and endless. Beginning with the world of the body 
and sensual perception, and therein first with the world of the visible elements, (one 
notices) how these elements are arranged gradually and continually in an ascending 
order, from earth to water, (from water) to air, and (from air) to fire. Each one of the 
elements is prepared to be transformed into the next higher or lower one, and 
sometimes is transformed. The higher one is always finer than the one preceding it. 
Eventually, the world of the spheres is reached. They are finer than anything else. 
They are in layers which are interconnected, in a shape which the senses are able to 
perceive only through the existence of motions. These motions provide some people 
with knowledge of the measurements and positions of the spheres, and also with 
knowledge of the existence of the essences beyond, the influence of which is 
noticeable in the spheres through the fact (that they have motion). 

One should then look at the world of creation. It started out from the 
minerals and progressed, in an ingenious, gradual manner, to plants and animals. 

The last stage — of minerals is connected with the first stage of plants, such as 


herbs and seedless plants. The last stage of plants, such as palms and vines, is 
connected with the first stage of animals, such as snails and shellfish which have 
only the power of touch. The word "connection" with regard to these created things 
means that the last stage of each group is fully prepared to become the first stage of 
the next group. 

The animal world then widens, its species become numerous, and, in a 
gradual process of creation, it finally leads to man, who is able to think and to 
reflect. The higher stage of man is reached from the world of the monkeys, in which 
both sagacity and perception are found, but which has not reached the stage of 
actual reflection and thinking. At this point we come to the first stage of man after 
(the world of monkeys). This is as far as our (physical) observation extends. 

Now, in — the various worlds we find manifold influences. In the world of 
sensual perception there are certain influences of the motions of the spheres and the 
elements. In the world of creation there are certain influences of the motions of 
growth and perception. All this is evidence of the fact that there is something that 
exercises an influence and is different from the bodi(ly substances). This is 
something spiritual. It is connected with the created things, because the various 
worlds must be connected in their existence. This spiritual thing is the soul, which 
has perception and causes motion. Above the soul there must exist something else 
that gives the soul the power of perception and motion, and that is also connected 
with it. Its essence should be pure perception and absolute intellection. This is the 
world of the angels. The soul, consequently, must be prepared to exchange humanity 
for angelicality, in order actually to become part of the angelic species at certain 
times in the flash of a moment. This happens after the spiritual essence of the soul 
has become perfect in actuality, as we shall mention later on. 

(The soul) is connected with the stage next to it, as are all the orders of the 
existentia, as we have mentioned before. It is connected both upward and downward. 
Downward, it is connected with the body. Through (the body, the soul) acquires the 

sense perceptions by which it is prepared for actual intellection.— Upward, it is 
connected with the stage of the angels. There, it acquires scientific and supernatural 
perceptions, for knowledge of the things that come into being exists tunelessly in the 
intellections of (the angels). This is in consequence of the well- constructed order of 
existence mentioned above, which requires that the essences and powers of (the 
world of existence) be connected with one another. 

The human soul cannot be seen, but its influence is evident in the body. It is 
as if all (the body's) parts, in combination or separately, were organs of the soul and 
its powers. The powers of action are touching with the hand, walking with the foot, 
speaking with the tongue, and the total combined motion with the body. 

The powers of sensual perception are graded and ascend to the highest 
power, that is, the power of thinking, for which there exists the term "rational 
power." Thus, the powers of external sense perception, with the organs of vision, 
hearing, and all the other (organs), lead up to inward (perception). 

The first (inward sense) is the "common sense," — that is, the power that 
simultaneously perceives all objects of sensual perception, whether they belong to 
hearing, seeing, touching, or anything else. In this respect, it differs from the power 
of external sense perception, as the objects of sensual perception do not all crowd 
upon external sense perception at one and the same time. 

The common sense transfers (the perceptions) to the imagination, which is 
the power that pictures an object of sensual perception in the soul, as it is, abstracted 
from all external matter. The organ for the activity of these two powers (common 
sense and imagination) is the first cavity of the brain. The front part of that cavity is 


for the common sense, and the back part for the imagination. 

Imagination leads up to the estimative power — and the power of memory. 
The estimative power serves for perceiving (abstract) ideas that refer to 
individualities, such as the hostility of Zayd, the friendship of 'Amr, the compassion 
of the father, or the savagery of the wolf. The power of memory serves as a 
repository for all objects of perception, whether they are imagined or not. It is like a 
storehouse that preserves them for the time when they are needed. The organ for the 
activity of these two powers is the back cavity of the brain. The front part of that 
cavity is for the estimative power, and the back for the power of memory. 

All these powers then lead up to the power of thinking. Its organ is the 
middle cavity of the brain. It is the power that causes reflection to be set in motion 
and leads toward intellection. The soul is constantly moved by it, as the result of its 

constitutional desire to (think). It wants to be free from the grip of power — and the 
human kind of preparedness. It wants to proceed to active intellection by 
assimilating itself to the highest spiritual group (that of the angels), and to get into 
the first order of the spiritualia by perceiving them without the help of bodily 
organs. Therefore, the soul is constantly moving in that direction. It exchanges all 
humanity and human spirituality for angelicality of the highest stage, without the 
help of any acquired faculty but by virtue of a primary natural disposition that God 
has placed in it. 

As far as this (process) is concerned, human souls are of three kinds. One is 
by nature too weak to arrive at spiritual perception. Therefore, it is satisfied to move 
downwards toward the perceptions of the senses and imagination and the formation 
of ideas with the help of the power of memory and the estimative power, according 
to limited rules and a special order. In this manner, people acquire perceptive and 

apperceptive ^25 knowledge, which is the product of thinking in the body. All this is 
(the result of the power of) imagination and limited in extent, since from the way it 
starts it can reach the primary ( intelligibilia ) but cannot go beyond them. Also, if 

they are corrupt, everything beyond them is also corrupt. This, as a rule, is the 
extent of human corporeal perception. It is the goal of the perceptions of scholars. It 
is in it that scholars are firmly grounded. 

A (second) kind (of soul), through thinking, moves in the direction of 
spiritual intellection and (a type of) perception that does not need the organs of the 
body, because of its innate preparedness for it. The perceptions of this kind of soul 
extend beyond the primary ( intelligibilia ) to which primary human perception is 

restricted, and cover the ground of inward observations, which are all intuitive 
They are unlimited as to their beginning and their end. They are the perceptions of 
saints, of men of mystical learning and divine knowledge. The blessed obtain them 

after death, in Purgatory (barzakh).^8 

A (third) kind (of soul) is by nature suited to exchange humanity altogether, 
both corporeal and spiritual humanity, for angelicality of the highest stage, so that it 
may actually become an angel in the flash of a moment, glimpse the highest group 

within their own stage, and listen to essential speech anc j divine address during 
that moment. (Individuals possessing this kind of soul) are prophets. God implanted 
and formed in them the natural ability to slough off humanity in that moment which 
is the state of revelation. God freed them from the lets and hindrances of the body, 
by which they were afflicted as human beings. He did this by means of 'ismah 
(immunity from sin and error, infallibility) and straightforwardness, which He 
implanted in them and which gave them that particular outlook, and by means of a 
desire for divine worship which He centered in them and which converges from all 


sides toward that goal. They thus move toward the (angelic) stage, sloughing off 
humanity at will, by virtue of their natural constitution, and not with the help of any 
acquired faculty or craft. 

(The prophets) move in that direction, slough off their humanity, and, once 
among the highest group (of angels), learn all that may there be learned. They then 
bring what they have learned back down to the level of the powers of human 
perception, as this is the way in which it can be transmitted to human beings. At 
times, this may happen in the form of a noise the prophet hears. It is like indistinct 
words from which he derives the idea conveyed to him. As soon as the noise has 
stopped, he retains and understands (the idea). At other times, the angel who 
conveys (the message) to the prophet appears to him in the form of a man who talks 
to him, and the prophet comprehends what he says. Learning the message from the 
angel, reverting to the level of human perception, and understanding the message 
conveyed to him - all this appears to take place in one moment, or rather, in a flash. 
It does not take place in time, but everything happens simultaneously. Therefore, it 
appears to happen very quickly. For this reason, it is called wahy ("revelation"), 

because the root why has the meaning "to hasten." 

It should be known that in the judgment of thorough scholars, the first 
(degree), the state of noise, is that of prophets who are not sent as messengers. The 
second degree, the state when an angel appears in the form of a man who addresses 
the prophet, is that of prophets who are sent as messengers. Therefore, it is more 
perfect than the first (degree). This is the meaning of the tradition in which the 

Prophet explained revelation, in reply to a question by alHarith b. Hisham.— Asked 
how the revelation came to him, Muhammad replied, "At times, it comes to me like 
the ringing of a bell. This affects me most. When it leaves me, I have retained what 
was said. At other times, the angel appears to me in the form of a man. He talks to 
me, and I retain the things he says." The first (case) affected him more, being the 
first attempt to advance from potential to actual contact (with the supernatural). 

Thus, it was somewhat difficult. When the Prophet returned, in this case, to the level 
of human perceptions, all he retained was auditory (impressions). All others were 
difficult. When the revelation was repeated and the messages became numerous, 
contact (with the supernatural) became easy. When the Prophet returned to the level 
of human perceptions, now all his senses-and especially the clearest sense, that of 
vision-conveyed (the revelation). 

The use of the perfect tense "I have retained" in the first case, and of the 
present tense "I retain" in the second, is a meaningful stylistic distinction. In both 
cases, the words that were spoken (during the revelation) came in a disguise. In the 
first case, they appeared in the form of "noise," which, according to accepted usage, 
is something different from speech. Muhammad indicated that understanding and 
comprehension followed immediately upon it after it had stopped. He properly used 
the perfect tense, which is suitable (to signify) what has ended or stopped, in order 
to indicate comprehension at the moment he perceived that (the noise) had ended 
and stopped.— In the second case, the angel appeared in the form of a man who 
addressed the Prophet and spoke to him. Comprehension (in this case) ran parallel 
with speech. Therefore, Muhammad properly used the present tense, which of 
necessity expresses renewed (repeated) activity. 

It should be known that, in general, the state of revelation presents 

difficulties and pains throughout. This has been indicated in the Qur'an: — "We 
shall lay upon you a heavy message." 'A'ishah said: "There was some anxiety in 
connection with the revelation, with which he had to struggle." She said: "The 
revelation would come to him on very cold days. Nevertheless, when it left him, 


there was sweat on his forehead." This is the reason for his well-known remoteness 
(from sensual perception) and the choking (feeling) when in that condition, of which 
the Prophet used to speak. The reason, as we have established, is that revelation 
means leaving one's humanity, in order to attain angelic perceptions and to hear the 

speech of the soul.— This causes pain, since it means that an essence leaves its own 
essence and exchanges its own stage for the ultimate stage (of the angels). This is 
the meaning of the choking feeling which Muhammad referred to in connection with 
the beginning of revelation in his statement: "And he (Gabriel) choked me until it 
became too much for me; then he released me. Then he said, 'Read,' and I replied, 'I 

cannot read.'— He did this a second and a third time, as the tradition tells. 

Gradual habituation to (the process of revelation) brings some relief, as 
compared to how it was before. It is for this reason that the earliest passages, surahs, 
and verses of the Qur'an, revealed to Muhammad in Mecca, are briefer than those 
revealed to him in Medina. One may compare the tradition about how the ninth 
surah (Surat al-Bara'ah) was revealed, during the expedition to Tabuk. The whole of 
this ( long surah), or most of it, was revealed to Muhammad while he was riding his 

camel.— Before this, when he was in Mecca, part of one of the shortest surahs in 
the latter part of the Qur'an — was revealed on one occasion, and the rest on another 
occasion. Also, one of the last revelations received in Medina was the "Verse of the 

Religion," — which is very long. Before this, in Mecca, the verses revealed were 
short, like those of the surahs ar -Rahman, adh-Dhariyat, al-Muddaththir, ad-Duha, 

and al- ' Alaq and similar surahs. This may serve as criterion for distinguishing 
the Meccan surahs and verses from the Medinese. God leads to that which is 
correct. This is the quintessence of prophecy. 

Soothsaying ( kahanah ) is also one of the particular qualities of the human 
soul. This is as follows. 

In the previous discussion, we have always stated that the human soul is 
prepared to exchange its humanity for the spirituality that lies above (humanity). 
Human beings have an intimation of that (exchange) in prophets who are by nature 
fitted to achieve it. It has been established that they neither need acquired qualities 
for that (exchange), nor are they dependent on any help from perceptions, notions 
(tasawwur), bodily activities, be they speech or motion, or anything else. It is (with 
them) a natural change from humanity to angelicality in the flash of a moment. 

If this is so and if such preparedness exists in human nature, logical 
classification requires that there must be another kind of human beings, as inferior to 
the first kind as anything that has something perfect as its opposite, must be inferior 
to that (perfect) opposite. Independence from all help in (achieving contact with the 
supernatural) is the opposite of dependence on help in connection with it. They are 
two very different things. 

Now, the classification of the world of existence requires that there must be 
a kind of human beings fitted by nature for the process of thinking voluntarily under 
the impulse of their rational power, whenever that power has a desire for it. (But the 
rational power) is not by nature capable of (the process of supernatural perception). 
Thus, when its weakness prevents (the rational power) from (contact with the 
supernatural), it is natural for (the rational power) to get involved with particulars, 
either of sensual perception or of the imagination, such as transparent bodies, animal 
bones, speech in rhymed prose, or whatever bird or animal may present itself. (A 
person whose rational power is thus engaged) attempts to retain such sensual or 
imaginary perceptions, since he depends on their help in attaining the supernatural 
perception he desires. They give him a sort of assistance. 


The power which in (such persons) constitutes the starting point of 
supernatural perception is soothsaying. The souls of such persons are inferior by 
nature and unable to attain perfection. Therefore, they have a better perception of 
particulars than of universals. They get involved with the former and neglect the 

latter. Therefore, the power of imagination is — most strongly developed in those 
persons, because it is the organ of the particulars. (The particulars) completely 

pervade (the power of the imagination), both in the sleeping and the waking 
state. They are ever ready and present in it. The power of imagination brings (the 
particulars) to the attention of (those persons) and serves as a mirror in which they 
are seen constantly. 

The soothsayer is not able to achieve perfection in his perception of the 
intelligibilia , because the revelation he receives is inspired by devils. The highest 
state this type of person can reach is to achieve disregard for the senses, with the 
help of rhymed prose and the use of words of an identical structure at the end of 

successive cola,— and (thereby) to attain an imperfect contact of the sort described 
(with supernatural things). From that motion and the foreign support that 
accompanies it, his heart receives some inspiration to express itself in words. The 
soothsayer, thus, often speaks the truth and agrees with reality. Often, however, 
what he says are falsehoods, because he supplements his deficiency with something 
foreign to, different from, and incompatible with, his perceptive essence. Thus, truth 
and falsehood are umbled together in him, and he is not trustworthy. He often takes 
refuge in guesses and hypotheses, because, in his self-deception, he desires to have 
(supernatural) perception and is willing to cheat those who ask him (for 
information). 

Men who use such rhymed prose are distinguished by the name of 
soothsayers ( kahin , pi kuhhan). They rank highest among their kind. Muhammad 
said, regarding something of the sort, "This belongs to the rhymed prose of the 
soothsayers." — The use of the genitive construction ("rhymed prose of") indicates 
that Muhammad considered rhymed prose a distinctive (mark of the soothsayer). He 

also questioned Ibn Sayyad,^=^ in order to find out about him, and he asked him 
how that thing came to him. Ibn Sayyid replied: "It comes to me in the form of both 
truth and falsehood." Whereupon Muhammad said, "You are confused with regard 
to the matter." He meant that prophecy is characterized by truthfulness and can in no 
way be affected by falsehood. For prophecy is a direct and independent contact of 
the essence of the prophet with the most high group (the angels). Because of his 
weakness, the soothsayer depends on the help of foreign notions ( tasawwur ). (These 
foreign notions) enter into his perception and mingle with the perception toward 
which he aspires. He thus becomes confused by them. So it is that falsehood makes 
its way to his (door). It is, therefore, impossible (for his activity) to be prophecy. 

We have stated that the highest rank of soothsaying is the state in which 
rhymed prose is used, because the support derived from rhymed prose is lighter than 
any other support, such as that derived from vision or hearing. Such light support (as 
is given by the use of rhymed prose) points to nearness of contact and perception 
and to a certain freedom from weakness. 

Some people assume that soothsaying of this type stopped with the time of 
prophecy, as the result of the stoning of the devils with meteors, in view of the 
prophetic mission, which occurred in order to keep them away from heavenly 

information, as is mentioned in the Qur'in,— The soothsayers had received 
heavenly information from the devils, and now, from the day on which the devils 
were stoned, soothsaying ceased to exist. There is no proof for this contention. 
Soothsayers obtain knowledge from their own souls as well as from the devils, as 


we have established. Furthermore, the verse of the Qur'an shows only that the devils 
were kept away from one particular kind of heavenly information, namely, that 
connected with the (prophetic) mission. They were not kept from other information. 
Also, soothsaying stopped only in view of the existence of prophecy. It may 
afterwards have returned to its former state. This would seem to be an obvious 
(fact), because all such (supernatural) perceptions are in abeyance at the time of 
prophecy, just as stars and lamps lose their brilliance beside the sun. Prophecy is the 
greatest light, in whose presence every other light is obscured or disappears. 

Some philosophers think that (soothsaying) exists only in view of prophecy, 

and then stops.^26 This happens at each occurrence of prophecy. They argue that 
the existence of prophecy needs a particular constellation that makes it necessary. 
The perfection of that constellation coincides with the perfection of the particular 
prophecy to which the constellation has reference. As long as the constellation is 
imperfect, it requires the existence of some imperfect related element. This is the 
meaning of "soothsayer," as we have established it. The perfect state of the 
constellation is preceded by an imperfect one, which requires the existence of one or 
more soothsayers. When the constellation reaches perfection, the prophet's existence 
reaches perfection. The constellations that point to the existence of a(n inferior) 

element such as soothsaying have passed by, and soothsaying ceases to exist.— 

This (theory) is based upon the assumption that any part of a particular constellation 
must exercise part of the influence that the constellation (in its perfect state) would 
exercise. This assumption is not fully acceptable. It may be that a particular 
constellation exercises its influence only when it has taken on its proper form. If 
some aspects are missing, it may exercise no influence whatever, not even, as they 
say, a restricted influence. 

Soothsayers who are a prophet's contemporaries are aware of the prophet's 

truthfulness and the significance of his miracle, since they derive some intuitive- 
experience from prophecy, such as every human being derives from sleep. 
Intellectual awareness of this relationship is stronger in the soothsayer than in the 
sleeper. What prevents soothsayers from acknowledging the truthfulness of the 
prophet, and causes them to deny (him), is simply their misguided desire to be 
prophets themselves. This leads them to spiteful opposition. This happened to 
Umayyah b. Abi s-Salt, who desired to be a prophet. It also happened to Ibn Sayyid, 

Musaylimah, and others When faith gains the upper hand and they stop aspiring 
to become prophets themselves, they make the most faithful of believers. This 

happened to Tulayhah al-Asadi and Qarib b. al-Aswad.^^ The actions of these two 
men in the Muslim conquest show that they were faithful believers. 


(Dream visions ) 

Real dream vision is an awareness on the part of the rational soul in its 
spiritual essence, of glimpse(s) of the forms of events. While the soul is spiritual, the 
forms of events have actual existence in it, as is the case with all spiritual essences. 
The soul becomes spiritual through freeing itself from bodily matters and corporeal 
perceptions. This happens to the soul (in the form of) glimpse(s) through the agency 
of sleep, as we shall mention. Through (these glimpses) (the soul) gains the 
knowledge of future events that it desires and by means of which it regains the 
perceptions that (properly) belong to it. When this process is weak and indistinct, the 
soul applies to it allegory and imaginary pictures, in order to gain (the desired 

knowledge). Such allegory, then, necessitates interpretation.— When, on the other 
hand, this process is strong, it can dispense with allegory. Then, no interpretation is 
necessary, because (the process) is then free from imaginary pictures. 


The occurrence, in the soul, of such glimpse(s) is caused by the fact that the 
soul is potentially a spiritual essence, supplemented by the body and the perceptions 
of (the body). Its essence, thus, eventually becomes pure intellection, and its 
existence becomes perfect in actuality. The soul, now, is a spiritual essence having 
perception without the help of any of the bodily organs. However, among the 
spiritualia, it is of a lower species than the angels, who inhabit the highest stage, 
and who never had to supplement their essences with corporeal perceptions or 
anything else. The preparedness (for spirituality) comes to (the soul) as long as it is 
in the body. There is a special kind (of preparedness), such as saints have, and there 
is a general kind common to all human beings. This is what "dream vision" means. 

In the case of the prophets, this preparedness is a preparedness to exchange 
humanity for pure angelicality, which is the highest rank of spiritualia. It expresses 
itself repeatedly during revelations. It exists when (the prophet) returns to the level 
of corporeal perceptions. Whatever perception (the prophet) has at that moment is 
clearly similar to what happens in sleep, even though sleep is much inferior to 
(revelation). 

Because of this similarity, the Lawgiver (Muhammad) defined dream vision 
as being the forty-sixth - or, according to other recensions, the forty-third, or the 
seventieth-part of prophecy.— None of these (fractions) is meant to be taken 
literally. They are to indicate the great degree of difference between the various 
stages (of supernatural perception). This is shown by the reference to "seventy" in 
one of the recensions. The number "seventy" is used by the Arabs to express (the 
idea of) a large number. 

The reference to "forty-six" has been explained by some scholars as follows. 
In its beginning, the revelation took the form of dream visions for six months, that 
is, for half a year. The whole duration of (Muhammad's) prophecy in Mecca and 
Medina was twenty-three years. Half a year, thus, is one forty-sixth (of the whole 
duration of prophecy). This theory cannot be verified. The given (figures) apply only 
to Muhammad. How can we know whether they also applied to other prophets? 
Moreover, this (theory) describes the relationship of prophecy to dream vision in 
point of time only, and does not consider the true character of dream visions in 
relation to the true character of prophecy. If our previous remarks were clear, it will 
be realized that the fraction refers to the relationship between the primary 
preparedness general to all mankind, and the close preparedness limited to the 
(prophets) and natural to them. 

The remote preparedness is commonly found among human beings. 

However, there are many obstacles and hindrances that prevent man from translating 
it into actuality. One of the greatest hindrances is the external senses. God, therefore, 
created man. in such a way that the veil of the senses could be lifted through sleep, 
which is a natural function of man. When that veil is lifted, the soul is ready to learn 
the things it desires to know in the world of Truth ( haqq ). At times, it catches a 
glimpse of what it seeks. Therefore, the Lawgiver (Muhammad) classified dream 
visions among "the bearers of glad tidings" ( mubashshirat ). He said, "Nothing 
remains of prophecy except the bearers of glad tidings." Asked what they were, he 

said: "A good dream vision, beheld by - or shown to - a good man." — 

The reason why the veil of the senses is lifted in sleep is as follows.204 The 
perceptions and actions of the rational soul are the result of the corporeal animal 
spirit. This spirit is a fine vapor which is concentrated in the left cavity of the heart, 
as stated in the anatomical works of Galen and others.— It spreads with the blood 
in the veins and arteries, and makes sensual perception, motion, and all the other 
corporeal actions possible. Its finest part goes up to the brain. There, it is tempered 


by the coldness of (the brain), and it effects the actions of the powers located in the 
cavities of the brain. The rational soul perceives and acts only by means of that 
vaporous spirit. It is connected with it. (This connection is) the result of the wisdom 
of creation which requires that nothing fine can influence anything coarse. Of all the 
corporeal matters, only the animal spirit is fine. Therefore, it is receptive to the 
influence of the essence, which differs from it only in respect of corporeality, that is, 
the rational soul. Thus, through the medium of (the animal spirit), the influence of 
the rational soul reaches the body. 

We have stated before — that the perception of the rational soul is of two 
kinds. There is an external perception through the five senses, and an inward 
perception through the cerebral powers. All these perceptions divert the rational soul 

from the perception for which — it is prepared by nature, (namely, that) of the 
essences of the spiritualia, which are higher than it. 

Since the external senses are corporeal, they are subject to weakness and 
lassitude as the result of exertion and fatigue, and to spiritual exhaustion through too 
much activity. Therefore, God gave them the desire to rest, so that perfect 
perception may be renewed afterwards. Such (rest) is accomplished by the retirement 
of the animal spirit from all the external senses and its return to the inward sense. 
This process is supported by the cold that covers the body during the night. Under 
the influence of the cold of the night, the natural heat repairs to the innermost 
recesses of the body and turns from its exterior to the interior. It thus guides its 
vehicle, the animal spirit, into the interior of the body. This is the reason why human 
beings, as a rule, sleep only at night. 

The spirit, thus, withdraws from the external senses and returns to the inward 
powers. The preoccupations and hindrances of sensual perception lessen their hold 
over the soul, and it now returns to the forms that exist in the power of memory. 
Then, through a process of synthesis and analysis, (these forms) are shaped into 
imaginary pictures. Most of these pictures are customary ones, because (the soul) has 
(only) shortly before withdrawn from the conventional objects of sensual perception. 
It now transmits them to the common sense, which combines all the five external 
senses, to be perceived in the manner of (those) five senses. Frequently, however, 
the soul turns to its spiritual essence in concert with the inward powers. It then 
accomplishes the spiritual kind of perception for which it is fitted by nature. It takes 
up some of the forms of things that have become inherent in its essence at that time. 
Imagination seizes on those perceived forms, and pictures them in the customary 
molds either realistically or allegorically. Pictured allegorically, they require 
interpretation. The synthetic and analytic activity which (the soul) applies to the 
forms in the power of memory, before it perceives its share of glimpses (of the 

supernatural), is (what is called in the Qur'an) "confused dreams."— 

According to (the sound tradition of) the Sahih, the Prophet said, "There are 
three kinds of dream visions. There are dream visions from God, dream visions from 

the angels, and dream visions from Satan."— This threefold division agrees with 
our preceding statement. Clear dream visions are from God. Allegorical dream 
visions, which call for interpretation, are from the angels. And "confused dreams" 
are from Satan, because they are altogether futile, as Satan is the source of futility. 

This is what "dream vision" really is, and how it is caused and encouraged 
by sleep. It is a particular quality of the human soul common to all mankind. 

Nobody is free from it. Every human being has, more than once, seen something in 
his sleep that turned out to be true when he awakened. He knows for certain that the 
soul must necessarily have supernatural perception in sleep. If this is possible in the 
realm of sleep, it is not impossible in other conditions, because the perceiving 


essence is one and its qualities are always present. God guides toward the truth. 


Dream words 

Note: Most of the (afore -mentioned supernatural perception by means of 
dream visions) occurs to human beings unintentionally and without their having 
power over it. The soul occupies itself with a thing. As a result, it obtains that 
glimpse (of the supernatural) while it is asleep, and it sees that thing. It does not plan 
it that way. 

0-1 A 

In the Ghayah^ 1 and other books by practitioners of magic, reference is 
made to words that should be mentioned on falling asleep so as to cause the dream 
vision to be about the things one desires. These words are called by (the magicians) 
"dream words" ( al-halumah ). In the Ghayah, Maslamah mentioned a dream word 
that he called "the dream word of the perfect nature." It consists of saying, upon 
falling asleep and after obtaining freedom of the inner senses and finding one's way 
clear (for supernatural perception), the following non- Arabic words: tamaghis 
ba'dan yaswadda waghads nawfana ghadzs.— The person should then mention 
what he wants, and the thing he asks for will be shown to him in his sleep. 

A man is said to have done this after he had eaten but little and done dhikr 

exercises^l2 for several nights. A person appeared to him and said, "I am your 
perfect nature." A question was put to that person, and he gave the man the 
information he desired. 

With the help of these words, I have myself had remarkable dream visions, 
through which I learned things about myself that I wanted to know. However, (the 
existence of such dream words) is no proof that the intention to have a dream vision 
can produce it. The dream words produce a preparedness in the soul for the dream 

vision. If that preparedness is a strong one, (the soul) ^^ a will be more likely to 
obtain that for which it is prepared. A person may arrange for whatever preparedness 
he likes, but that is no assurance that the thing for which preparations have been 
made will actually happen. The power to prepare for a thing is not the same as 
power over the thing (itself). This should be known and considered in similar cases. 

God "is wise and knowing." — 


Other types of divination 

In the human species we find individuals who foretell things before they take 
place. They have a special natural qualification for it. Through that qualification, 
they are distinguished from all other human beings. They do not have recourse to a 
craft for their predictions, nor do they get them with the help of astral influences or 
anything else. Their forecasts are the necessary result of their natural disposition. 
Among such people are diviners ( 'arraf); men who gaze into transparent bodies such 
as mirrors or bowls of water; men who examine the hearts, livers, and bones of 
animals; men who draw auguries from birds and wild animals; and men who cast 
pebbles, grains of wheat, or (date) pits.— .All these things are found among 
mankind; no one can deny them or be ignorant of them. Statements concerning 
supernatural things are also placed upon the tongues of the insane, who are thus able 
to give information about (supernatural things). Sleeping and dying persons, being 
about to die or to fall asleep, likewise speak about supernatural things. Men who 
have followed Sufi training have, as is well known, as acts of divine grace, obtained 
perceptions of supernatural things. 


The different kinds of supernatural perception 

We are now going to discuss all these ways of (supernatural) perception. We 
are going to start with soothsaying. Then, we shall discuss all the other kinds, one by 
one. Before that, however, we want to discuss how the human soul, as it exists in all 
the types of human beings mentioned, is prepared for supernatural perception. This 
is as follows. 

(The soul) is a spiritual essence which, as we have mentioned before, is the 
only spiritual being that exists potentially. It exchanges potentiality for actuality with 
the help of the body and (bodily) conditions. This is something everyone can attain 
to. 

Now, everything that exists potentially has matter and form. The form of the 
soul, through which its existence materializes, is identical with perception and 
intellection. The soul at first exists potentially. It is prepared for perception and for 
the reception of the universal and particular forms. Its growth and actual existence 
then materialize through keeping company with the body, through the things to 
which (the body) accustoms (the soul) when (the former's) sensual perceptions are 
foisted upon (the latter), and through the universal ideas which (the soul itself) 
abstracts from the sensual perceptions of the body. It intellectualizes the forms time 
after time, until perception and intellection become the actual form of the soul. 

Thus, its essence materializes. The soul, then, is like matter, and, through perception, 
the forms come to it one after the other in an uninterrupted sequence. 

This is why we find that a child in the earliest stages of his growth is unable 
to achieve the perception which comes to the soul from its essence, either in his 

sleep or through removal (of the veil of sense perception), — or anything else. For 
the form of the soul, which is its very essence, namely, perception and intellection, 
has not yet materialized (in the child). Nor has the power of the soul to abstract the 
universals materialized. Later on, when the essence of (the soul) has materialized in 
actuality, the soul has two kinds of perception, as long as it remains in the body: one 
through the organs of the body, for which the soul is enabled by the corporeal 
perceptions, and the other through its own essence, without any intermediary. The 

soul is prevented — from (the latter kind of perception) by its immersion in the 
body and the senses, and the preoccupations of (body and senses). By means of 
corporeal perception, for which the senses were originally created, they always draw 
the soul to the external. Frequently, however, the soul plunges from the external into 
the internal. Then, the veil of the body is lifted for a moment, either by means of a 
quality that belongs to every human being, such as sleep, or by means of a quality 
that is found only in certain human beings, such as soothsaying or casting (of 
pebbles, etc.), or by means of exercises such as those practiced by (certain) Sufis 
who practice the removal (of the veil of sense perception). At such moments, the 
soul turns to the essences of the highest group (the angels), which are higher than 
itself. (This is possible) because in (the order of) existence the stages of the soul and 

the angels are connected with each other, as we established earlier.— These 
essences are spiritual. They are pure perception and intellects in action. They 
contain the forms and realities of the existentia, as was (just) mentioned. Something 
of those forms is then disclosed in (the soul). It derives some knowledge from them. 
Frequently, it transmits the perceived forms to the imagination which, in turn, puts 
them into the customary molds. (The soul,) then, has recourse to sensual perception 
to explain the things it has perceived, either in their abstract form or in the molds 
into which (they were put by the imagination). In this way it gives information about 
them. This is how the preparedness of the soul for supernatural perception must be 
explained. 


Let us now return to the explanation we promised, of the various kinds (of 
supernatural perception). Persons who gaze into transparent bodies, such as mirrors, 
bowls, or water, and (examine) the hearts, livers, and bones of animals, as well as 
those who cast pebbles and (date) pits, all belong to the class of soothsayers. Only, 
they are constitutionally less well fitted for supernatural perception than soothsayers. 
The soothsayer does not need to make much of an effort in order to lift the veil of 
sensual perception. They, however, expend much effort to concentrate all sensual 
perception in one particular sense, the noblest one, which is vision. It is applied 
exclusively to whatever plain visual object has been (selected for concentration), 
until the perception about which information is to be given appears. It is often 
thought that the place where those (who gaze into mirrors) see something, is the 
surface of the mirror. This is not so. They continue gazing at the surface of the 
mirror until it (the surface) disappears. Between their eyes and the mirror appears a 
veil like a white cloud. In it, forms are pictured, and (these pictures) are the objects 
they perceive. This gives them the facts of a negative or positive character they 
wanted to obtain, and they pass on (these facts) as they perceived them. Neither the 
mirror nor the forms perceived in it are now present to them. A different kind of 
perception originates in them in (that state). It is a psychic one that has nothing to do 
with vision. Through it, objects of psychic perception take on shape (for 
observation) by sensual perception, as is known. Something similar happens to those 
who examine the hearts and livers of animals, and to those who gaze into water, 
bowls, and similar things. 

Among these people we have observed persons who keep their senses 
occupied only by means of incense, as well as incantations, in order to be prepared 
(for supernatural perception). Then, they tell what they have perceived. They think 
that they see the forms take on concrete shapes in the air, telling them what they 
want to know in the form of pictures and allusions. These persons are less remote 
from sensual perception than the first group. The world is full of remarkable things. 

Augury (zajr) is talk about supernatural things which originates in some 
people when a bird or animal appears, and they reflect about it after it has gone. It is 
a power in the soul that calls for sagacity and the ability to think about (the things of 

interest) which augurs see or hear. As we mentioned earlier, the power of 
imagination is strong in augurs, and they exert that power in their researches, while 
depending on the help given by things they have seen or heard. This gives them 
some supernatural perception. The power of imagination acts here as it does in 
sleepers. When the senses are asleep, (the power of imagination) intervenes among 
the things seen in the waking state, and combines them with the products of its own 
thinking. Thus, the power of imagination brings about vision. 

In the insane, the rational soul is but weakly connected with the body, 
because the humors, as a rule, are corrupt and have a weak animal spirit. Therefore, 
the soul belonging to (the body of an insane person) is not deeply immersed in the 
senses. The painful disease of deficiency that affects it keeps it too much occupied. 
Frequently, it was pushed into attaching itself to (the insane) by some other Satanic 
spirituality, which clings to them and which (the soul) itself is too weak to keep 

away. The insane thus become possessed. 218a when they have become possessed in 
this manner, either because of the corruption of their constitution as the result of the 
essential corruption of their soul, or because of the onslaught the Satanic souls make 
upon them when they are attached to (their bodies), they are totally removed from 
sensual perception. They perceive a glimpse of the world of their soul. (Their soul) 
receives the impress of forms which, in turn, are transformed by the imagination. In 
this condition, they frequently speak without wanting to speak. 

(Supernatural) perception in all these (groups) contains truth and falsehood 


mixed together. For although they may achieve the loss of sensual perception, it is 
only with the help of foreign notions ( tasawwur ) that they achieve contact (with the 
supernatural), as we have established. This leads to untruthfulness, (which is to be 
found) in these (ways of supernatural) perception. 

The diviners ('arraf) somehow enjoy this kind of perception, but they do not 
have the same contact (with the supernatural). They concentrate their thinking upon 
the matter in which they are interested and apply guesses and hypotheses to it. They 
base themselves upon an unfounded assumption as to what basically constitutes 
contact with, and perception of, (the supernatural). They claim acquaintance with the 
supernatural, but in reality (their procedure) has nothing to do with it. 

This is the manner in which such (supernatural knowledge) is obtained. Al- 

Mas'udi discussed the subject in his Muruj adh-dhahab.— He did not hit upon the 
right explanation. It is evident from his discussion that he was not firmly grounded 
in the various kinds of (pertinent) knowledge. He merely reports what he learned 
from people experienced in the subject, and from others. 

All the kinds of (supernatural) perception mentioned are found in man. The 
Arabs used to repair to soothsayers in order to learn about forthcoming events. They 
consulted them in their quarrels, to learn the truth by means of supernatural 
perception. Literature contains much information about this matter. In pre-Islamic 
times, Shiqq, of the tribe of Anmar b. Nizar, and Satih, of the tribe of Mazin b. 

Ghassan,^^ were famous (soothsayers) (The latter) used to fold up like a garment, 
as he had no bones save for his skull. 

A famous story is their interpretation of the dream vision of Rabi'ah b. Nasr, 
in which they informed him that the Abyssinians would take possession of the 
Yemen, that the Mudar would rule after them, and that the Muhammadan prophecy 

would make its appearance among the Quraysh.— Another famous story is that of 

the dream vision of the Mobedhan.-^ Satih interpreted it when the Persian emperor 
(Khosraw) sent 'Abd-al-Masih to him with (the dream). (On that occasion, Satih) 
informed him about the prophecy (of Muhammad) and the (future) destruction of the 
Persian realm. All this is well known. 

There were also many diviners among the Arabs. They are mentioned by the 
Arabs in their poems. (One poet) said: 

I said to the diviner of the Yamamah: Cure me, 

For if you cure me, you are indeed a physician. 

Another poet said: 

I promised to give the diviner of the Yamamah whatever 
he would ask me for, 

And (I promised the same) to the diviner of Najd, if they 
would cure me (of my love). 

But they said: Let God cure you. By God, we have no 
Power over (the disease) that you carry around with you 
in your body — 

The "diviner of the Yamamah" is Riyah b. 'Ijlah,— and the "diviner of 
Najd" is al-Ablaq al-Asadi. 

Some people have another way of supernatural perception. It occurs in the 


stage of transition from waking to sleeping, and is in (the form of unconsciously) 
speaking about the thing one wants to know and thereby obtaining supernatural 
knowledge of the matter as desired. This happens only during the transition from 
waking to sleeping, when one has lost the power to control one's words. Such a 
person talks as if by innate compulsion. The most he can do is to hear and 
understand what (he says). 

Words of a similar nature come from those who are about to be killed, at the 
moment when their heads are being severed from their trunks. We have been 
informed that certain criminal tyrants used to kill their prisoners in order to learn 
their own future from the words the prisoners would utter when they were about to 
be killed. It was unpleasant information they received from them. 

In the Ghayah,— Maslamah similarly mentioned that when a human being is 
placed in a barrel of sesame oil and kept in it for forty days, is fed with figs and nuts 

until his flesh is gone and only the arteries and sutures — of the skull remain, and 
is then taken out of the oil and exposed to the drying action of the air, he will 
answer all special and general questions regarding the future that may be asked. 

This is detestable sorcery. However, it shows what remarkable things exist in the 
world of man. 

There are men who attempt to obtain supernatural perception through 

exercise. They attempt an artificial (state of) death through self-mortification.— 
They kill all corporeal powers (in themselves), and wipe out all influences of those 
powers that color the soul in various ways.— This is achieved by. concentrated 
thinking, and doing without food for long (periods). It is definitely known that when 
death descends upon the body, sensual perception and the veil it constitutes 
disappear, and the soul beholds its essence and its world. (These men) attempt to 
produce, artificially before death, the experience they will have after death, and to 
have their soul behold the supernatural. 

Other such people are the men who train themselves in sorcery. They train 
themselves in these things, in order to be able to behold the supernatural and to be 
active in the various worlds. Most such live in the intemperate zones of the north 
and the south, especially in India, where they are called yogis. They possess a large 
literature on how such exercises are to be done. The stories about them in this 
connection are remarkable. 

The Sufi training is a religious one. It is free from any such reprehensible 
intentions. The Sufis aspire to total concentration upon God and upon the approach 

to Him, in order to obtain the mystical experiences — of gnosis and Divine 
oneness. In addition to their training in concentration and hunger, the Sufis feed on 

dhikr exercises 221 by which their devotion to that training can fully materialize. 
When the soul is reared on dhikr exercises, it comes closer to the gnosis of God, 
whereas, without it, it comes to be a Satanic one. 

Whatever supernatural knowledge or activity is achieved by the Sufis is 
accidental, and was not originally intended. Had it been intentional, the devotion of 
the Sufis (who intended to have supernatural perception) would have been directed 
toward something other than God, namely, toward supernatural activity and vision. 
What a losing business that would have been! In reality, it would have been 
polytheism. A (Sufi) has said, "Whoever prefers gnosis for the sake of gnosis comes 
out for the second (stage of being)." Through their devotion, (Sufis) intend (to come 
near) the Master, and nothing else. If, meanwhile, some (supernatural perception) is 
obtained, it is accidental and unintentional. Many (Sufis) shun (supernatural 

perception) when it accidentally happens to them, and pay no attention to it. 222 


They want God only for the sake of His essence, and nothing else. It is well known 
that (supernatural perception) occurs among the (Sufis). They call their supernatural 
experiences and mind reading "physiognomy" ( firasah ) and "removal" (of the veil 
of sense perception, kashf). Their experiences of (supernatural) activity they call 
"acts of divine grace" ( karamah ). None of these things is unworthy of them. 
However, Professor Abu Ishaq al-Isfarayini and Abu Muhammad b. Abi Zayd al- 

Maliki,^^ among others, disapproved of it, in order to avoid any risk of (prophetic) 
miracles becoming confused with something else. However, the speculative 
theologians rely on the "advance challenge" ( tahaddi ) as the distinguishing 
characteristic of the (prophetic) miracle. This is sufficient. 

According to (the sound tradition of) the Sahih, Muhammad said, "Among 

you, there are men who are spoken to, and 'Umar is one of them." The men 
around Muhammad, as is well known, had experiences of a sort that confirms the 
fact (that mystics and pious persons may have some sort of supernatural perception). 
For instance, there is the story of 'Umar saying, "O Sariyah, beware of the 
mountain!" Sariyah is Sariyah b. Zunaym. He was the general of a Muslim army in 
the 'Iraq during the conquest. He had gotten into a battle with the polytheists. He 
thought of withdrawing. Near him, there was a mountain toward which he was 
directing himself (and where the enemy was lying in ambush). This came 
(supernaturally) to 'Umar's attention while he was preaching from the pulpit in 
Medina. He called out to him: "O Sariyah, beware of the mountain." Sariyah heard 
it, there where he was (in faraway ’Iraq), and he also saw ('Umar) there in person. 

This story is well known.— 

Something similar happened to Abu Bakr in connection with his last will, 
addressed to his daughter 'A'ishah. He had given her a certain amount of dates from 
his orchard, as a gift, and then, (when he was near death), he suggested to her that 
she harvest them, so that the (other) heirs would not get them. Then he said, "They 
are your two brothers and your two sisters." Whereupon 'A'ishah said, "There is 
Asma', but who is the other?" Abu Bakr replied, "I see that the child in Bint 
Kharijah's womb is a girl," and so it was. This is mentioned in the Muwatta' in the 

chapter on gifts that are not permitted.— 

(The men around Muhammad) and the pious and exemplary men after them 
had many similar experiences. However, the Sufis say that such experiences are rare 
in the time of prophecy, because, in the presence of the prophet, the adept of 
mysticism cannot continue in his mystic state. They go so far as to say that the adept 
of mysticism who comes to Medina is deprived of his mystic state, so long as he 
remains there and until he leaves. 

May God provide us with guidance, and may He lead us to the truth. 

Among the adepts of mysticism are fools and imbeciles who are more like 
insane persons than like rational beings. Nonetheless, they deservedly attained 
stations of sainthood and the mystic states of the righteous. The persons with 
mystical experience who learn about them know that such is their condition, 
although they are not legally responsible. The information they give about the 
supernatural is remarkable. They are not bound by anything. They speak absolutely 
freely about it and tell remarkable things. When jurists see they are not legally 
responsible, they frequently deny that they have attained any mystical station, since 
sainthood can be obtained only through divine worship. This is an error. "God 

bestows His grace upon whomever He wants to." — The attainment of sainthood is 
not restricted to (the correct performance of) divine worship, or anything else. When 
the human soul is firmly established as existent, God may single it out for whatever 
gifts of His He wants to give it. The rational souls of such people are not 


nonexistent, nor are they corrupt, as is the case with the insane. They (merely) lack 
the intellect that is the basis of legal responsibility. (That intellect) is a special 
attribute of the soul. It means various kinds of knowledge that are necessary to man 
and that guide his speculative ability and teach him how to make a living and 
organize his home. One may say that if he knows how to make a living, he has no 
excuse left not to accept legal responsibility, so that he may prepare for his life after 
death. Now, a person who lacks that (special) attribute (of the soul called intellect) 
still does not lack the soul itself, and has not forgotten his reality. He has reality, 
though he lacks the intellect entailing legal responsibility, that is, the knowledge of 
how to make a living. This is not absurd. God does not select His servants for gnosis 
only on the basis of (the performance of) some legal duty. 

If this is correct, it should be known that the state of these men is frequently 
confused with that of the insane, whose rational souls are corrupted and who belong 
to (the category of) animals. There are signs by which one can distinguish the two 
groups. One of them is that fools are found devoting themselves constantly to certain 
dhikr exercises and divine worship, though not in the way the religious law requires, 
since, as we have stated, they are not legally responsible. The insane, on the other 
hand, have no (particular) devotion whatever. 

Another sign is that fools were created stupid, and were stupid from their 
earliest days. The insane, on the other hand, lose their minds after some portion of 
their life has passed, as the result of natural bodily accidents. When this happens to 
them and their rational souls become corrupt, they are lost. 

A further sign is the great activity of fools among men. It may be good or 
bad. They do not have to have permission, because for them there is no legal 
responsibility. The insane, on the other hand, show no (such) activity. 

The course of our discussion caused us to insert the preceding paragraph. 

God leads toward that which is correct. 


Other alleged ways of supernatural perception 

Some people think that there are ways of supernatural perception not 
involving remoteness from sensual perception. (Such) are the astrologers who 
believe in astrological indications, consequences of the positions of (stars) in the 
firmament, influences of (the stars) upon the elements, and results from the 

tempering of the natures of (the stars) when they look at each other,— as well as 
effects of such tempers upon the air. Astrologers, (as a matter of fact,) have nothing 
to do with the supernatural. It is all guesswork and conjectures based upon (the 
assumed existence of) astral influence, and a resulting conditioning of the air. (Such 
guesswork) is accompanied by an additional measure of sagacity enabling scholars 
to determine the distribution (of astral influence) upon particular individuals in the 
world, as Ptolemy said. We shall explain the futility of astrology in the proper place, 
if God wills.-- If it were established (as a fact), it would, at best, be guessing and 
conjecturing. It has nothing whatever to do with (the supernatural perception) we 
have mentioned. 


Geomancy 

Other such people include certain men of the common people who, to 
discover the supernatural and know the future, invented a craft they called "sand 
writing" (geomancy) — after the material one uses for it. This craft consists in 
forming combinations of dots in four "ranks." (The resulting combinations) differ in 
that the (four) ranks are made up of different or identical (arrangements) of even or 


odd. This makes sixteen combinations. For if (all four ranks) hold evens or (all) 
odds, we have two combinations. If one rank only has an even, we have four 
combinations. If two ranks have an even, we have six combinations, and if three 
ranks have an even, we have four combinations. This makes altogether sixteen 

combinations.— 

The sand diviners have given different names to the different combinations 
and classified them as lucky or unlucky, as is done with the stars. For (the sixteen 
combinations), they have assumed (the existence of) sixteen "houses." They think 
that the "houses" are natural and that they correspond to the twelve signs of the 
zodiac and the four cardines. They have attributed to each combination a "house," 
lucky (or unlucky) influences, and significance with regard to one particular group 
(of people) in the world of the elements. (The sand diviners) have thus invented a 
discipline that runs parallel to astrology and the system of astrological judgments. 
However, the astrological judgments are based upon natural indications, as Ptolemy 

assumes. The 242 indications of sand writing, on the other hand, are conventional. 

Ptolemy discussed only nativities and conjunctions which, in his opinion, 
come within the influence of the stars and the positions of the spheres upon the 
world of the elements. Subsequent astrologers, however, discussed questions 

( inter rogationes ), in that they attempted to discover the innermost thoughts 242a 
attributing them to the various houses of the firmament and drawing conclusions 
concerning them, according to the judgments governing each particular astral house. 
They are those mentioned by Ptolemy. 

It should be known that the innermost thoughts concern psychic knowledge, 
which does not belong to the world of the elements. They do not come within the 
influence of the stars or the positions of the spheres, nor do (the stars and the 
positions of the spheres) give any indications with regard to them. The branch of 
questions ( inter rogationes ) has indeed been accepted in astrology as a way of 
making deductions from the stars and positions of the spheres. However, it is used 
where it is not natural for it to be used. 

When the sand diviners came, they discontinued use of the stars and the 
positions of the spheres, because they found it difficult to establish the altitude of 
stars by means of instruments and to find the adjusted (positions of the) stars by 
means of calculations. Therefore, they invented their combinations of figures. They 
assumed that there were sixteen, according to the houses of the firmament and the 
cardines, and they specified that they were lucky, unlucky, or mixed, like the 
planets. They limited themselves to the sextile aspect. They made judgments in 
accordance with the combinations of figures, as is done in the interrogation (branch 
of astrology). In both cases, the use made (of the data) is not a natural one, as we 
stated before. 

Many city dwellers who had no work, in order to make a living,— tried 
sand divination. They composed works teaching the foundation and principles of 
sand divination. This was done by az-Zanati — and others. 

Some sand diviners attempt supernatural perception, in that they occupy their 
senses with study of the combinations of figures. They thus reach a state of 
preparedness, like those who are by nature fitted for preparedness, as we shall 
mention later on. These men are the noblest class of sand diviners. 

In general, they assume that sand writing originated with the prophets of old. 

They frequently ascribe its invention to Daniel or Idris,— as is being done with all 
the crafts. They (also) frequently claim that (sand writing) is enjoined by the 
religious law. As a proof of this (contention of theirs), they quote the following 


tradition of Muhammad: "There was a prophet who wrote, and whoever concurs 

with his writing this is it."— However, this tradition contains no evidence for the 
claim that sand writing is enjoined by the religious law, as some people assume. The 
meaning of the tradition is: "There was a prophet who wrote," that is, the revelation 
came to him while he was writing. It is not absurd to assume that such was the 
custom of some prophets, for prophets differ in their ways of perceiving the 
revelation. God said: "We distinguished the messengers (by giving the ones pre- 
eminence) over the others." — When some of them received the revelation, the 
angel spoke first to them, without any request or motive (on their part). Others had a 
human motive, resulting from contact with human affairs, in that their people asked 
them to explain some difficult problem, some obligation of duty, or the like. 
Therefore, they directed their devotions to the Divine, and in that way God revealed 
to them what they wanted to know. (Logical) classification here suggests the 
existence of another division. Revelation may come to a person who is not prepared 
for it in any way, as in the afore-mentioned instance, or it may come to a person 
who is prepared for it in some way. In the Israelite stories, it is reported that a 
prophet was prepared for the coming of the revelation by hearing sweet melodious 
voices — Thi s report is not established as correct, but it is not improbable. God 

singles out His prophets and messengers for whatever (favors) He wishes. This — 
was reported to us on the authority of a great Sufi, who attempts to attain remoteness 
from sensual perception by listening to music. By this means he becomes 
completely free for his (supernatural) perceptions, in the station he is in, which (it is 
true) is inferior to prophecy. "And there is nobody among us who does not have a 

known station."— 

If this is established and if, as we have mentioned before, certain sand 
diviners attempt to remove (the veil of sense perception) by occupying their senses 
with the study of combinations of figures, they may attain intuitive supernatural 
revelation ( kashf) through complete freedom from sense perception. They may 
exchange bodily perceptions for spiritual ones-both of which have been explained 
earlier. This is a kind of soothsaying, of the type of gazing at bones, water, and 
mirrors, and it distinguishes (these sand diviners) from those who restrict themselves 
to techniques that achieve supernatural perception by means of sagacity and 
conjecturing, but who do not relinquish corporeal perception and continue to wander 
in the realm of guesswork. Some prophets achieved preparedness for being 
addressed by the angel, in their prophetical station, by writing, exactly as people 
who are not prophets may achieve preparedness for spiritual perception and the 
relinquishment of human perception by the same means. In the case of (sand 
diviners), however, what they achieve is spiritual perception only, whereas prophets 
achieve an angelic perception by means of divine revelation. 

The prophets have nothing to do with the stations of the sand diviners, whose 
perceptions are based on sagacity and conjecturing. They do not make it part of the 
religious law for any human being to speak about and discuss the supernatural. The 

statement in the tradition, "And whoever concurs with his writing - this is it," — 
means: He is right, in view of the fact that the writing was supported by the 
revelation that came to that particular prophet, whose custom it was to have the 
revelation come to him while he was writing. Or, the tradition may be a compliment 
and indicate that the prophet had reached a high competence in the use of sand 
writing - without (implying) the existence of a connection between (revelation) and 
(sand writing) - because in this way the prophet was prepared for revelation, which, 
therefore, concurred with (the conclusions reached from sand writing). But were the 
prophet to take (those conclusions) from the writing alone, without the concurrence 
of revelation, they would not be right. This is the meaning of the tradition. And God 


knows better. 

The tradition does not indicate that sand writing is enjoined by religious law, 
nor that it is permissible to practice sand writing to obtain supernatural perception, 
as sand diviners in the cities do. Some of them may be inclined to this opinion, on 
the basis that what (any) prophet did is accepted law, and that sand writing, 
therefore, is enjoined by the religious law according to the principle, held by some, 
that the religious law of those who came before us is religious law for us. This does 
not apply in this (case). Law only results when it is enjoined by messengers upon the 
various nations. This (particular) tradition, however, indicates no (thing of the sort). 
It indicates only that the particular condition was that of one of the prophets, and it 
is possible that it was not enjoined as a religious law. Therefore, it would not be a 
religious law, neither one restricted to the people of (that particular prophet), nor 
one common to his people and to others. (The tradition) merely indicates that it is a 
condition that may occur in the instance of a particular prophet, without being 
generally applicable to mankind. This is all we wanted to make clear here. God 
gives the correct inspiration. 

If, in their self-deception, (sand diviners) want to discover something 

supernatural, they take paper, or sand, or flour, and form dots in (four) lines in 
accordance with the number of the four ranks. This is repeated four times. They thus 
obtain sixteen lines. They then deduct (some) dots in pairs. The remainder, for each 

line, whether it is even or odd, ^53 j s p Ut j nt0 t h e ran k t0 w hich it belongs according 
to order. This results in four combinations, which they arrange to form one 
continuous line. From them, they then form four other combinations through 
horizontal confrontation, by considering each rank, the corresponding combination 

next to it, and the evens or odds found in it.^4 These, then, make eight 
combinations, placed along one line. From each pair of combinations, they then 
form one combination (to be placed) underneath the (eight), by considering the 
evens or odds found in each rank of two combinations. Thus, we have four others 
under (the eight). From these four combinations, they then form two more 
combinations, which are likewise placed underneath (the four). From these two, they 
again form one more combination and place it underneath (the two). They then 
combine this fifteenth combination with the first one and thus form one more 

combination, which completes the sixteen.— Then, they evaluate the whole 
"writing" in a curious manner, as to the good luck or misfortune required by the 
various combinations, taking them as they stand, speculating on them, analyzing 
them, combining them, making deductions as to the various kinds of existentia, and 
so on. 

This craft is prevalent in (all) civilized (regions). There exists a literature 
dealing with it. Outstanding ancient and modern personalities were famous for it. 

But it is obviously based on arbitrary notions and wishful thinking. The truth that 
should be present to one's mind is that the supernatural cannot be perceived by any 
craft at all. The only people who can acquire knowledge of the supernatural are 
those distinguished human beings who are fitted by nature to return from the world 
of sensual perception to the world of the spirit. The astrologers, therefore, called all 
people (able to perceive supernatural knowledge) "Venusians," with reference to 
Venus, because they assumed that the position of Venus in the nativities of these 
people indicates their ability to have supernatural perception. 

If the person who takes up (sand) writing and similar (practices) is one of 
those distinguished beings, and if his study of dots, bones, and other things is 
intended to occupy his senses in order that his soul may return momentarily to the 
world of the spiritualia, then (sand writing) occupies the same position as casting 


pebbles, examining the hearts of animals, and gazing into transparent mirrors, as we 
have mentioned.— If this is not so, and if knowledge of the supernatural is sought 
by means of (sand writing), (then) it is meaningless in theory and practice.— "God 
guides whomever He wants to guide." — 

The sign by which persons who are disposed by nature to supernatural 
perceptions can be recognized, is this: When these persons devote themselves to 
acquiring a knowledge of things, they suffer a departure from their natural 
condition. They yawn and stretch, and show symptoms of remoteness from sensual 
perception. These (symptoms) vary in intensity according to the different degrees to 
which they possess this natural disposition. Those in whom this sign is not found 
have nothing to do with supernatural perception. They are merely trying to spread 
the falsehoods to which they are committed. 


( The hisab an-nim) 

There are (other) groups that also lay down certain rules for the discovery of 
the supernatural. Their rules do not belong to the first category, that which has to do 
with the spiritual perceptions of the soul, and also differ from speculations based 
upon astral influences, as assumed by Ptolemy, as well as from the guesswork and 
conjecturing with which the diviners work. They are nothing but mistakes which (the 
people who work with them) throw out like snares for weakminded people. I shall 
mention only as much of (the subject) as is mentioned in literature and has aroused 
the interest of distinguished men. 

One such rule is the method called hisab an-nim.— It is mentioned at the 
end of the Politics which is ascribed to Aristotle. It serves to predict the victor and 
the vanquished when kings go to war with each other. The procedure is to add up the 
numerical total of the letters in the name of each king, according to the system of 
calculation in which the letters of the alphabet in the sequence alif, b,j... are given 
the numerical values of units, tens, hundreds, and thousands from one to a thousand. 
When that has been done, each total should be divided by nine. The fractional 
remainder, in both cases, should be kept in mind. The two fractional remainders 
should be compared. If they are different and both are even or odd numbers, the 
(king) who has the smaller number will be the victor. If one of them is an even and 
the other an odd number, the (king) who has the larger number will, be the victor. If 
the two numbers are equal and both even, the object of the inquiry will be the 
victor. And if both numbers are odd, the (king) who made the inquiry will be the 
victor. He (Aristotle) reported two verses about this procedure which have wide 
currency. They are: 

I think, in the case of even or odd numbers (for both), 
the smaller number will gain the upper hand. 

When the numbers differ (as to being even or odd), the 
larger number will be the victor. 

The object of the inquiry will be victorious, if the num 
bers are both equal and even. 

And if they are both equal and odd, the one who made 
the inquiry will be victorious. 

In order to find out what the fractional remainder will be after dividing by 
nine, a rule has been laid down by (the persons who practice the hisab an-nim ), 
which is well known among them for that purpose. They take the letters that refer to 
the number one in the four ranks, alif for the units, y for the tens, q for the hundreds, 

and sh for the thousands — - there is no number higher than one thousand that can 
be indicated by letters, because sh is the last letter of the alphabetical arrangement 


for numerical purposes) - and arrange these four letters in sequence so as to form a 
word of four consonants: 'yash. Then, they do the same with the letters that 
designate the number two in the (first) three ranks, omitting the thousands because 
there are no letters of the alphabet left for them. These three letters are b for two, k 
for twenty and r for two hundred. Arranged in sequence, they form the word bkr. 

The same is done with the letters that designate the number three, resulting in the 
word jls, and so on through all the letters of the alphabet. This results in nine words, 
(nine being) the highest unit. The words are: 'yash, bkr, jls, dmt, tenth, wskh, z'dh, 
hfz, and tdgh, here arranged according to numerical sequence. Each of them has its 
own number, one for 'ygsh, two for bkr, three for jls, and so on to nine, which 
belongs to tdgh. If they want to divide a name by nine, they note in which of these 
nine words each letter of the name appears, substituting the number (of the word) for 
each letter (of the name), and adding together all the numbers thus obtained. If the 
sum is greater than nine, they (deduct nine or a multiple of nine from it and) take the 
fractional remainder. Otherwise, they take (the sum) as it is. The same thing is then 
done with the other name, and the two results are compared in the manner indicated 
above. 

The secret of this rule is clear. The fractional remainder in a division by nine 
is the same in any given multiple of the powers of ten.— In a way, (the person 
making the calculation) just sums up the (unit) number in any given multiple of the 
powers of ten. The numbers in multiples of higher powers of ten, thus, are like the 
(corresponding) units. There is no distinction between two, twenty, two hundred, or 

two thousand.— Likewise, three, thirty, three hundred, and three thousand, all are 
three. The numbers are arranged in such a sequence as to indicate nothing but the 
(unit) number in any given multiple of the powers of ten. The letters that indicate 
(the same number in) the different powers of ten, the units, tens, hundreds, and 
thousands, are combined each in one word. The number of the corresponding word 
is valid for all the letters it contains, whether they are units, tens, hundreds, or 
thousands. Thus, the number of the word can be used for all the letters it contains, 
and all of them are added up, as we have said. This procedure has been common 
among people for a long time. 

Some shaykhs we knew personally were of the opinion that the correct thing 
is to use nine other words in place of those (mentioned). They too represent 
consecutive (numbers). The procedure of dividing by nine is the same. These words 
are: 'rb, ysqk, jzlt, mdws, hf, tkhdhn, ghsh, h', tdz, nine words in all, in numerical 
sequence. They contain three, four, or two letters, respectively. As one can see, they 
follow no coherent principle. But our shaykhs are transmitting them on the authority 
of the leading Maghribi scholar in astrology as well as letter magic, Abu 1-Abbas b. 

al- Banna' They state on his authority that the use of these words for the division 

of the hisab an-nim is more correct than that of the words 'yqsh, (etc.). And God 
knows better how it may be. 

All these ways of perceiving the supernatural are based upon no proof, and 
are not verifiable. Thorough scholars do not attribute the book that contains the 
hisab an-nim to Aristotle, because it contains opinions that cannot be verified or 
proven. This confirms (its spuriousness). The reader should investigate this matter 
critically, if he is a wellgrounded scholar. 


( The Za'irajah) ^64 

Another technical rule for alleged discovery of the supernatural is the 
za'irajah which is called ''Za'irajah of the world." It is attributed to Abul-'Abbas as- 

Sabti ,3_GS a ver y prominent Maghribi Sufi. He lived at the end of the sixth [twelfth] 


century in Marrakech, during the rule of the Almohad ruler Ya'qub al-Mansur.^^ 

The za'irajah is a remarkable technical procedure. Many distinguished people 
have shown great interest in using it for supernatural information, with the help of 
the well-known enigmatic operation that goes with it. For that (purpose), they have 
been desirous to solve its riddle and uncover its secret. The form of the za'irajah 

they use is a large circle that encloses other concentric circles for the spheres, 
the elements, the created things, the spiritualia, as well as other types of beings and 
sciences. Each circle is divided into sections, the areas of which represent the signs 
of the zodiac, or the elements, or other things. The lines dividing each section run to 
the center. They are called chords. Along each chord there are sets of letters that 
have a conventional (numerical value). Some are zimam ciphers, the same as those 
used for numerals by government officials and accountants in the contemporary 

Maghrib. Others are the ordinary ghubar ciphers.— Inside the za'irajah, between 
the circles, are found the names of the sciences and of topics of the created 
(world).— On the back of (the page containing) the circles, there is a table with 

many squares, fifty-five horizontally and one hundred and thirty-one vertically. 12 ^ 
Some of the squares are filled in, partly with numbers and partly with letters. Others 
are empty. The significance of these numbers in their positions is not known, nor are 
the rules known that govern the distribution of filled and empty squares. The 

zd'irajah is surrounded by verses in the meter at-tawil and rhyming on -la.— They 
describe the procedure which must be followed to discover the answer to a 
particular inquiry from the zd'irajah. However, since the verses express their 
meaning in riddles, they lack clarity. On one side of the za'irajah is one verse from 
a poem ascribed to one of the great Western forecasters of future events, the 

Sevillian scholar, Malik b. Wuhayb,— who lived during the reign of the Lamtunah 
(Almoravids). This is the verse: 

A weighty question you have got. Keep, then, to yourself 

Remarkable doubts which have been raised and which can be straightened 
out with diligence. 

This is the verse commonly used in attempting to obtain the answer to a 
question with the help of this or other za'irajahs. To obtain the answer to a question, 
the question is written down in unconnected letters and the ascendant as of that day 
is determined, that is, one of the signs of the zodiac and the degree (of the sign on 
the horizon). Then, the za'irajah is consulted, and the particular chord of the 
za'irajah that borders the sign of the zodiac of that (particular) ascendant is chosen. 
This is followed from where it starts to the center, and then on to the circumference 
of the circle opposite the ascendant. One takes note of all the letters written upon 
that chord from beginning to end, and of all the numbers written in between. The 
latter are converted into letters according to their numerical values, transposing all 
units into tens and all tens into hundreds, and vice versa, as required by the rule 
governing use of (the za'irajah ). The letters thus obtained are put alongside the 
letters of the question, and one also adds all the letters and numbers that are upon 
the chord bordering the sign, three signs from that of the ascendant. (In this case,) 
one follows it from where it starts to the center, but not beyond it to the 
circumference. The numbers are converted into letters as before, and added to the 
other letters. Then, the afore-mentioned verse by Malik b. Wuhayb, which is the 
basis and norm of the procedure, is written down in unconnected letters, and put 
aside. Then the number of the degree of. the ascendant is multiplied by the "base" of 
the sign (of the zodiac). In the language (used here) the "base" is the sign's distance 
from the last rank, in contrast to the (meaning of) "base" in the language of 
astronomers [?], where it is the distance from the first rank.— The degree is then 


multiplied by another number, called the "greatest base" and "principal cycle." The 
result of these (multiplications) is entered in the squares of the table, following well- 
known rules and familiar procedures and (using a certain) number of "cycles." Some 
letters are taken out, others dropped, and the rest matched with what is found among 
the letters of the verse. Some are transferred to the letters of the question and (the 
letters) that are with them. Then, these letters are divided by certain numbers called 
"cycles," and from each "cycle" the letter at which the "cycle" ends, is removed. The 
(operation) is repeated with the (entire) number of "cycles" specified for that 
(purpose). The result, finally, is (a number of) unconnected letters which are put 
together consecutively to form the words of a verse of the same meter and rhyme as 
the aforementioned verse by Malik b. Wuhayb, which serves as the basis of the 
operation. We shall mention all this in the chapter on the sciences, in discussing 
how a za'irajah of this kind is used. 

We have seen many distinguished people jump at (the opportunity for) 
supernatural discoveries through (the za'irajah ) by means of operations of this kind. 
They think that correspondence (in form) between question and answer shows 
correspondence in actuality. This is not correct, because, as was mentioned 

before, ^24 perception of the supernatural cannot be attained by means of any 
technique whatever. It is not impossible that there might be a correspondence in 
meaning, and a stylistic agreement, between question and answer, such that the 
answer comes out straight and in agreement with the question. It is not impossible 
that this could be achieved by just such a technique of separating the letters of the 
question and those of the chord, entering the numbers that come together as the 
result of the multiplication of fixed numbers in the table, taking out letters from the 
table and discarding others, operating repeatedly with a given number of "cycles," 
and matching the whole thing with the letters of the verse arranged in sequence. 
Intelligent persons may have discovered the relationships among these things, and, 
as a result, have obtained information about the unknown through them. Finding out 
relationships between things is the secret (means) whereby the soul obtains 
knowledge of the unknown from the known. It is a way to obtain such knowledge, 
especially suited to people of (mystical) training. This (training) gives the intellect 
added power for analogical reasoning and thinking, as has been explained before 

several times.^25 it is in this sense that za'irajahs are usually ascribed to people of 
(mystical) training. This particular za'irajah is thus ascribed to as-Sabti. I have come 

across another one which is ascribed to Sahl b. 'Abdallah. 

It is, indeed, a remarkable operation and a wondrous procedure. As it appears 
to me, the secret of why the answer comes out in rhymed form is to be explained as 
the result of matching (the letters of the za'irajah) with the letters of the verse (by 
Malik b. Wuhayb). This is why the versified answer has the same meter and rhyme. 
This can be deduced from the fact that we have come across other similar operations 
in which the matching (of letters) with the verse was omitted. In those cases, the 
answer did not come out in the form of a verse. This will be shown when the matter 
is discussed in its proper place.— 

Many people lack the understanding necessary for belief in the genuineness 
of the operation and its effectiveness in discovering the object of inquiry. They deny 
its soundness and believe that it is hocus-pocus. The practitioner, they believe, 
inserts the letters of a verse he (himself) composes as he wishes, from the letters of 
question and chord. He follows the described technique, which has no system or 
norm, and then he produces his verse, pretending that it was the result of an 
operation that followed an established procedure. 

This reasoning is baseless and wrong. It is the result of such people's 


inability to understand the relations between the existentia and things that (can be) 
known, and the differences between the various kinds of perception and intellect. 
Anyone who has some perception naturally denies (the existence of) anything he is 
not capable of perceiving. In order to refute this (denial of the genuineness of the 
operation of the za'irajah ), it is sufficient for us (to refer to the fact) that the 
technique has been observed in operation and that it has been definitely and 
intelligently established that the operation follows a coherent procedure and sound 
norms. No one who has much intelligence and sagacity and has had contact with the 
(operation of the za'irajah ) would object to this statement. Many an operation with 
numbers, which are the clearest things in the world, is difficult to grasp, because the 
(existing) relations are difficult to establish and intricate. This is the case to a much 
greater degree here, where the relations are so intricate and strange. 

Let us mention a problem that will to some degree illustrate the point just 

stated. 

Take a number of dirhams and place beside each dirham three fals. Then, 
take all the fals and buy a fowl with them. Then, buy fowls with all the dirhams for 
the same price that the first bird cost. How many fowls will you have bought? 

The answer is nine. As you know, a dirham has twentyfour Pals, three Pals 
are one -eighth of a dirham, one is eight times one -eighth. Adding up one -eighth of 
each dirham buys one fowl. This means eight fowls (for the dirhams), as one is eight 

times one -eighth .— Add another fowl, the one that was bought originally for the 
additional fats and that determined the price of the fowls bought with the dirhams. 
This makes nine. It is clear how the unknown answer was implied in the relations 
that existed between the numerical data indicated in the problem. This and similar 
(things) are at first suspected as belonging to the realm of the supernatural, which 
cannot be known. 

It is thus obvious that it is from the relations existing among the data that one 
finds out the unknown from the known. This, however, applies only to events 
occurring in (the world of) existence or in science. Things of the future belong to 
the supernatural and cannot be known unless the causes for their happening are 
known and we have trustworthy information about it. 

If this is clear, it follows that all the operations of the za'irajah serve merely 
to discover the words of the answer in the words of the question. As we have seen, 
it is a question of producing from a given arrangement of letters another 
arrangement of letters. The secret here lies in the existence of a relationship between 
the two (different arrangements of letters). Someone may be aware of it, whereas 
someone else may not be aware of it. Those who know the existing relationship can 
easily discover the answer with the help of the stated rules. 

From the (conventional) meanings and the combinations of words, the 
answer may then also indicate a negative or positive (statement) regarding (the 
object of) the question. This, however, is on another level. It is not on the same level 
(as merely discovering the words of the answer). It implies a conformity of the 

words to the outside (world).— Such knowledge cannot be acquired through those 
operations. It remains veiled to human beings. 

God claims all His knowledge for Himself. "God knows and you do not 
know." ^8Q 


Chapter II 


BEDOUIN CIVILIZATION, SAVAGE NATIONS 
AND TRIBES AND THEIR CONDITIONS (OF LIFE), 
INCLUDING SEVERAL BASIC AND 
EXPLANATORY STATEMENTS. 1 


1. Both Bedouins and sedentary people are natural groups. 


IT - SHOULD BE KNOWN that differences of condition among people are 
the result of the different ways in which they make their living. Social organization 
enables them to cooperate toward that end and to start with the simple necessities of 

life, before they get to conveniences and luxuries. ^ 

Some people adopt agriculture, the cultivation of vegetables and grains, (as 
their way of making a living). Others adopt animal husbandry, the use of sheep, 
cattle, goats, bees, and silkworms, for breeding and for their products. Those who 
live by agriculture or animal husbandry cannot avoid the call of the desert, because 
it alone offers the wide fields, acres, pastures for animals, and other things that the 

settled areas do not offer.4 It is therefore necessary for them to restrict themselves to 
the desert. Their social organization and co-operation for the needs of life and 
civilization, such as food, shelter, and warmth, do not take them beyond the bare 
subsistence level, because of their inability (to provide) for anything beyond those 
(things). Subsequent improvement of their conditions and acquisition of more 
wealth and comfort than they need, cause them to rest and take it easy. Then, they 
co-operate for things beyond the (bare) necessities. They use more food and clothes, 
and take pride in them. They build large houses, and lay out towns and cities for 
protection. This is followed by an increase in comfort and ease, which leads to 
formation of the most developed luxury customs. They take the greatest pride in the 
preparation of food and a fine cuisine, in the use of varied splendid clothes of silk 
and brocade and other (fine materials), in the construction of ever higher buildings 
and towers, in elaborate furnishings for the buildings, and the most intensive 
cultivation of crafts in actuality. They build castles and mansions, provide them with 

running water, ^ build their towers higher and higher, and compete in furnishing 
them (most elaborately). They differ in the quality of the clothes, the beds, the 
vessels, and the utensils they employ for their purposes. Here, now, (we have) 
sedentary people. "Sedentary people" means the inhabitants of cities and countries, 
some of whom adopt the crafts as their way of making a living, while others adopt 
commerce. They earn more and live more comfortably than Bedouins, because they 
live on a level beyond the level of (bare) necessity, and their way of making a living 
corresponds to their wealth. 

It has thus become clear that Bedouins and sedentary people are natural 
groups which exist by necessity, as we have stated. 


2. The Arabs - are a natural group in the world. 


We have mentioned in the previous section that the inhabitants of the desert 
adopt the natural manner of making a living, namely, agriculture and animal 
husbandry. They restrict themselves to the necessary in food, clothing, and mode of 
dwelling, and to the other necessary conditions and customs. They do not possess 
conveniences and luxuries beyond (these bare necessities). They use tents of hair 
and wool, or houses of wood, or of clay and stone, which are not furnished 
(elaborately). The purpose is to have shade and shelter, and nothing beyond that. 
They also take shelter in caverns and caves. The food they take is either little 

prepared or not prepared at all, save that it may have been touched by fire.- 

For those who make their living through the cultivation of grain and through 
agriculture, it is better to be stationary than to travel around. Such, therefore, are the 
inhabitants of small communities, villages, and mountain regions. These people 
make up the large mass of the Berbers and non- Arabs. 

Those who make their living from animals requiring pasturage, such as 
sheep and cattle, usually travel around in order to find pasture and water for their 
animals, since it is better for them to move around in the land. They are called: 
"sheepmen" ( shawiyah ), that is, men who live on sheep and cattle. They do not go 
deep into the desert, because they would not find good pastures there. Such people 

include the Berbers, the Turks and their relatives, the Turkomans and the Slavs, ^ for 
instance. 

Those who make their living by raising camels move around more. They 

wander deeper into the desert, because the hilly - pastures with their plants and 
shrubs do not furnish enough subsistence for camels. They must feed on the desert 
shrubs and drink the salty desert water. They must move around the desert regions 
during the winter, in flight from the harmful cold to the warm desert air. In the 
desert sands, camels can find places to give birth to their young ones. Of all animals, 
camels have the hardest delivery and the greatest need for warmth in connection 

with it.— (Camel nomads) are therefore forced to make excursions deep (into the 
desert). Frequently, too, they are driven from the hills by the militia, and they 

penetrate farther into the desert, because they do not want the militia — to mete out 
justice to them or to punish them for their hostile acts. As a result, they are the most 
savage human beings that exist. Compared with sedentary people, they are on a 
level with wild, untamable (animals) and dumb beasts of prey. Such people are the 
Arabs. In the West, the nomadic Berbers and the Zanatah are their counterparts, and 
in the East, the Kurds, the Turkomans, and the Turks. The Arabs, however, make 
deeper excursions into the desert and are more rooted in desert life (than the other 
groups), because they live exclusively on camels, while the other groups live on 
sheep and cattle, as well as camels. 

It has thus become clear that the Arabs are a natural group which by necessity 
exists in civilization. 

God is "the Creator, the Knowing One." — 



3. Bedouins are prior to sedentary people. The desert is 
the basis and reservoir of civilization and cities. 


We — have mentioned that the Bedouins restrict themselves to the (bare) 
necessities in their conditions (of life) and are unable to go beyond them, while 
sedentary people concern themselves with conveniences and luxuries in their 
conditions and customs. The (bare) necessities are no doubt prior to the 
conveniences and luxuries. (Bare) necessities, in a way, are basic, and luxuries 
secondary and an outgrowth (of the necessities). Bedouins, thus, are the basis of, 
and prior to, cities and sedentary people. Man seeks first the (bare) necessities. Only 
after he has obtained the (bare) necessities, does he get to comforts and luxuries. 

The toughness of desert life precedes the softness of sedentary life. Therefore, 
urbanization is found to be the goal of the Bedouin. He aspires to (that goal) .— 
Through his own efforts, he achieves what he proposes to achieve in this respect. 
When he has obtained enough to be ready for the conditions and customs of luxury, 
he enters upon a life of ease and submits himself to the yoke of the city. This is the 
case with all Bedouin tribes. Sedentary people, on the other hand, have no desire for 
desert conditions, unless they are motivated by some urgent necessity — or they 
cannot keep up with their fellow city dwellers. 

Evidence for the fact that Bedouins are the basis of, and prior to, sedentary 
people is furnished by investigating the inhabitants of any given city. We shall find 
that most of its inhabitants originated among Bedouins dwelling in the country and 
villages of the vicinity. Such Bedouins became wealthy, settled in the city, and 
adopted a life of ease and luxury, such as exists in the sedentary environment. This 
proves that sedentary conditions are secondary to desert conditions and that they are 
the basis of them.— This should be understood. 

All Bedouins and sedentary people differ also among themselves in their 
conditions (of life). Many a clan is greater than another, many a tribe greater than 
another, many a city larger than another, and many a town more populous (' umran ) 
than another. 

It has thus become clear that the existence of Bedouins is prior to, and the 
basis of, the existence of towns and cities. Likewise, the existence of towns and 
cities results from luxury customs pertaining to luxury and ease, which are posterior 
to the customs that go with the bare necessities of life. 


4. Bedouins are closer to being good than sedentary people. 


The — reason for it is that the soul in its first natural state of creation is ready 
to accept whatever good or evil may arrive and leave an imprint upon it. 

Muhammad said: "Every infant is born in the natural state. It is his parents who 

make him a Jew or a Christian or a Magian." — To the degree the soul is first 
affected by one of the two qualities, it moves away from the other and finds it 
difficult to acquire it. When customs proper to goodness have been first to enter the 
soul of a good person and his (soul) has thus acquired the habit of (goodness, that 
person) moves away from evil and finds it difficult to do anything evil. The same 
applies to the evil person when customs (proper to evil) have been first to affect 
him. 

Sedentary people are much concerned with all kinds of pleasures. They are 
accustomed to luxury and success in worldly occupations and to indulgence in 
worldly desires. Therefore, their souls are colored with all kinds of blameworthy and 
evil qualities. The more of them they possess, the more remote do the ways and 
means of goodness become to them. Eventually they lose all sense of restraint. 

Many of them are found to use improper language in their gatherings as well as in 
the presence of their superiors and womenfolk. They are not deterred by any sense 
of restraint, because the bad custom of behaving openly in an improper manner in 
both words and deeds has taken hold of them. Bedouins may be as concerned with 
worldly affairs as (sedentary people are). However, such concern would touch only 
the necessities of life and not luxuries or anything causing, or calling for, desires 
and pleasures. The customs they follow in their mutual dealings are, therefore, 
appropriate. As compared with those of sedentary people, their evil ways and 
blameworthy qualities are much less numerous. They are closer to the first natural 
state and more remote from the evil habits that have been impressed upon the souls 
(of sedentary people) through numerous and ugly, blameworthy customs. Thus, they 

can more easily be cured than sedentary people. This is obvious. It will later on — 
become clear that sedentary life constitutes the last stage of civilization and the 
point where it begins to decay. It also constitutes the last stage of evil and of 
remoteness from goodness. It has thus become clear that Bedouins are closer to 

being good than sedentary people. "God loves those who fear God." — 

This is not contradicted by the statement of al-Hajjaj to Salamah b. al- 
Akwa', which is included among the traditions of al-Bukhari. When al-Hajjaj 
learned that Salamah was going to live in the desert, he asked him, "You have 
turned back and become an Arab?" Salamah replied, "No, but the Messenger of 

God permitted me to go (back) to the desert." — 

It should be known that at the beginning of Islam, the inhabitants of Mecca 
were enjoined to emigrate, so as to be with the Prophet wherever he might settle, in 
order to help him and to aid him in his affairs and to guard him. The Arab Bedouins 
of the desert were not enjoined to emigrate, because the Meccans were possessed of 
a strong group feeling for the Prophet to aid and guard him, such as did not exist 
among the desert Arabs. The emigrants, therefore, used to express an aversion to 
"becoming Arabs," that is, (to becoming) inhabitants of the desert upon whom 


emigration was not obligatory. According to the tradition of Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas, 
Muhammad said, when (Sa'd) was ill in Mecca: "O God, give success to the 

emigration of my companions and do not cause them to turn back." 21 That means, 
God should enable them to stay in Medina and not to have to leave it, so that they 
would not have to discontinue the emigration they had begun, and return. It is the 
same meaning as is implied in the expression "turning back" in connection with any 
enterprise. 

It is (also) said that the (prohibition against "turning back") was restricted to 
the time before the conquest of Mecca, when there was a need for emigration 
because of the small number of Muslims. After the conquest, when the Muslims had 
become numerous and strong, and God had guaranteed His Prophet inviolability 
(' ismah ), emigration was no longer necessary. Muhammad said: "There is no 

emigration after the conquest." — This has been interpreted as meaning that the 
injunction to emigrate was no longer valid for those who became Muslims after the 
conquest. It has also been interpreted (to mean) that emigration was no longer 
obligatory upon those who had become Muslims and had emigrated before the 
conquest. (At any rate,) all agree that emigration was no longer necessary after the 
Prophet's death, because the men around Muhammad had by then dispersed and 
spread in all directions. The only thing that remained was the merit of living in 
Medina, which constituted emigration. 

Thus, al-Hajjaj's statement to Salamah, who went to live in the desert: "You 
have turned back and become an Arab?" is a reproach to Salamah for giving up his 
residence in Medina. It contains an allusion to the words of the aforementioned 
prayer of the Prophet: "Do not cause them to turn back." The words, "You have 
become an Arab?" are a reproach, as they imply that Salamah had become one of 
the Arabs who did not emigrate. In his reply, Salamah denied both insinuations. He 
said that the Prophet had permitted him to go to the desert. This was a special 
(permission) in Salamah's case, exactly as, for instance, the testimony of 

Khuzaymah 23 and Abu Burdah's — lamb were special to the cases of Khuzaymah 
and Abu Burdah. Or, (it may be) alHajjaj reproached Salamah only because he was 
giving up his residence in Medina, as he was aware that emigration was no longer 
necessary after the Prophet's death. Salamah's reply was that it was more proper and 
better to avail himself of the Prophet's permission, who had distinguished him by 
this special permission only because (the Prophet) had some motive known to 
him(self) when he gave it. 

In any event, the story does not imply that censure of desert (life) is meant 
by the expression "to become an Arab." It is known that the legal obligation to 
emigrate served the purposes of aiding and guarding the Prophet. It did not have the 
purpose of censuring desert (life). Use of the expression "to become an Arab," to 
condemn non-fulfillment of the duty (of emigration), is no indication that "becoming 
an Arab" is something blameworthy. And God knows better. 


5. Bedouins are more disposed to courage than sedentary people. 


The — reason for this is that sedentary people have become used to laziness 
and ease. They are sunk in well-being and luxury. They have entrusted defense of 
their property and their lives to the governor and ruler who rules them, and to the 
militia which has the task of guarding them. They find full assurance of safety in the 
walls that surround them, and the fortifications that protect them. No noise disturbs 
them, and no hunting occupies them. They are carefree and trusting, and have ceased 
to carry weapons. Successive generations have grown up in this way of life. They 
have become like women and children, who depend upon the master of the house. 
Eventually, this has come to be a quality of character that replaces natural 
(disposition). 

The Bedouins, on the other hand, live separate from the community. They 
are alone in the country and remote from militias. They have no walls and gates. 
Therefore, they provide their own defense and do not entrust it to, or rely upon 
others for it. They always carry weapons. They watch carefully all sides of the road. 
They take hurried naps only when they are together in company or when they are in 
the saddle. They pay attention to every faint barking and noise. They go alone into 
the desert, guided by their fortitude, putting their trust in themselves. Fortitude has 
become a character quality of theirs, and courage their nature. They use it whenever 
they are called upon or an alarm stirs them. When sedentary people mix with them 
in the desert or associate with them on a journey, they depend on them. They cannot 
do anything fore themselves without them.. This is an observed fact. (Their 
dependence extends) even to knowledge of the country, the (right) directions, 
watering places, and crossroads. The reason for this is the thing we have explained. 
At the base of it is the fact that man is a child of the customs and the things he has 
become used to. He is not the product of his natural disposition and temperament.— 
The conditions to which he has become accustomed, until they have become for him 
a quality of character and matters of habit and custom, have replaced his natural 
disposition. If one studies this in human beings, one will find much of it, and it will 
be found to be a correct (observation). 

"God creates whatever He wishes."— 


6. The reliance of sedentary people upon laws destroys their fortitude and power of 

resistance. 


Not everyone is master of his own affairs. Chiefs and leaders who are 
masters of the affairs of men are few in comparison with the rest. As a rule, man 
must by necessity be dominated by someone else. If the domination is kind and just 
and the people under it are not oppressed by its laws and restrictions, they are 
guided by the courage or cowardice that they possess in themselves. They are 
satisfied with the absence of any restraining power. Self-reliance eventually 
becomes a quality natural to them. They would not know anything else. If, however, 
the domination with its laws is one of brute force and intimidation, it breaks their 
fortitude and deprives them of their power of resistance as a result of the inertness 
that develops in the souls of the oppressed, as we shall explain. 

'Umar forbade Sa'd (b. Abi Waqqas) to exercise such (arbitrary power) when 
Zuhrah b. Hawiyah took the spoils of al-Jalinus. The value of the spoils was 75,000 
gold pieces. (Zuhrah) had followed al-Jalinus on the day of al-Qadisiyah, killed him, 
and taken his spoils. Sa'd took them away from him and said, "Why did you not wait 
for my permission to follow him?" He wrote to 'Umar and asked 'Umar for 
permission (to confiscate the spoils). But 'Umar replied, "Would you want to 
proceed against a man like Zuhrah, who already has borne so much of the brunt (of 

batde),— and while there still remains so much of the war for you (to finish)? 

Would you want to break his strength and morale?" Thus, 'Umar confirmed 

(Zuhrah) in possession of the spoils.^ 

When laws are (enforced) by means of punishment, they completely destroy 
fortitude, because, the use of punishment against someone who cannot defend 
himself generates in that person a feeling of humiliation that, no doubt, must break 
his fortitude. 

When laws are (intended to serve the purposes of) education and instruction 
and are applied from childhood on, they have to some degree the same effect, 
because people then grow up in fear and docility and consequently do not rely on 
their own fortitude. 

For this (reason), greater fortitude is found among the savage Arab Bedouins 
than among people who are subject to laws. Furthermore, those who rely on laws 
and are dominated by them from the very beginning of their education and 
instruction in the crafts, sciences, and religious matters, are thereby deprived of 
much of their own fortitude. They can scarcely defend themselves at all against 
hostile acts. This is the case with students, whose occupation it is to study and to 
learn from teachers and religious leaders, and who constantly apply themselves to 
instruction and education in very dignified gatherings. This situation and the fact 
that it destroys the power of resistance and fortitude must be understood. 

It is no argument against the (statement just made) that the men around 
Muhammad observed the religious laws, and yet did not experience any diminution 
of their fortitude, but possessed the greatest possible fortitude. When the Muslims 
got their religion from the Lawgiver (Muhammad), the restraining influence came 
from themselves, as a result of the encouragement and discouragement he gave 
29 


them in the Qur'an. It was not a result of technical instruction or scientific 
education. (The laws) were the laws and precepts of the religion, which they 
received orally and which their firmly rooted (belief in) the truth of the articles of 
faith caused them to observe. Their fortitude remained unabated, and it was not 
corroded by education or authority. 'Umar said, "Those who are not educated 

(disciplined) by the religious law are not educated (disciplined) by God." 2Q (This 
statement expresses) 'Umar's desire that everyone should have his restraining 
influence in himself. It also expresses his certainty that the Lawgiver (Muhammad) 
knew best what is good for mankind. 

(The influence of) religion, then, decreased among men, and they came to 
use restraining laws. The religious law became a branch of learning and a craft to be 
acquired through instruction and education. People turned to sedentary life and 
assumed the character trait of submissiveness to law. This led to a decrease in their 
fortitude. 

It has thus become clear that governmental and educational laws destroy 
fortitude, because their restraining influence is something that comes from outside. 
The religious laws, on the other hand, do not destroy fortitude, because their 
restraining influence is something inherent. Therefore, governmental and 
educational laws influence sedentary people, in that they weaken their souls and 
diminish their stamina, because they have to suffer (their authority) both as children 
and as adults. The Bedouins, on the other hand, are not in the same position, 
because they live far away from the laws of government, instruction, and education. 

Therefore, Abu Muhammad b. Abi Zayd,— in his book on the laws governing 
teachers and students (Ahkam al-mu'allimin wa-lmuta'allimin), said: "The educator 
must not strike a boy more than three times (in one punishment) as an educational 

measure." 22 (ibn Abi Zayd) reported this remark on the authority of Judge 

Shurayh.22 Certain scholar(s) argued in favor of the procedure mentioned, by 
referring to the threefold choking mentioned in the tradition concerned with the 
beginning of revelation.— This, however, is a weak argument. (The tradition about 
the) choking is not suitable proof, because it has nothing to do with ordinary 

instruction. God "is wise and knowing." — 


7. Only tribes held together by group feeling can live in the desert. 


It should be known that God put good and evil into the nature of man. Thus, 
He said in the Qur'an: "We led him along the two paths." 26 He further said: "And 
inspired (the soul) with its wickedness as well as its fear of God." — 

Evil is the quality that is closest to man when he fails to improve his customs 
and (when) religion is not used as the model to improve, him. The great mass of 
mankind is in that condition, with the exception of those to whom God gives 

success. Evil — qualities in man are injustice and mutual aggression. He who casts 
his eye upon the property of his brother will lay his hand upon it to take it, unless 
there is a restraining influence to hold him back. The poet thus said: 

Injustice is a human characteristic. If you find 

A moral man,— there is some reason why he is not unjust. 

Mutual aggression of people in towns and cities is averted by the authorities 
and the government, which hold back the masses under their control from attacks 
and aggression upon each other. They are thus prevented by the influence of force 
and governmental authority from mutual injustice, save such injustice as comes 
from the ruler himself. 

Aggression against a city from outside may be averted by walls, in the event 

of negligence, 4Q a surprise attack at night, or inability (of the inhabitants) to 
withstand the enemy during the day. (Or,) it may be averted with the help of a 
militia of government auxiliary troops, if (the inhabitants are otherwise) prepared 
and ready to offer resistance. 

The 41 restraining influence among Bedouin tribes comes from their shaykhs 
and leaders. It results from the great respect and veneration they generally enjoy 
among the people. The hamlets of the Bedouins are defended against outside 
enemies by a tribal militia composed of noble youths of the tribe 

who are known for their courage. Their defense and protection are successful 

only if they are a closely-knit group — of common descent. This strengthens their 
stamina and makes them feared, since everybody's affection for his family and his 
group is more important (than anything else). Compassion and affection for one's 
blood relations and relatives exist in human nature as something God put into the 
hearts of men. It makes for mutual support and aid, and increases the fear felt by the 
enemy. 

This may be exemplified by the story in the Qur'an about Joseph's brothers. 
They said to their father: "If the wolf eats him, while we are a group, then, indeed, 

we have lost out." — This means that one cannot imagine any hostile act being 
undertaken against anyone who has his group feeling to support him. 

Those who have no one of their own lineage (to care for) rarely feel 
affection for their fellows. If danger is in the air on the day of battle, such a one 
slinks away and seeks to save himself, because he is afraid of being left without 
support — and dreads (that prospect). Such people, therefore, cannot live in the 
desert, because they would fall prey to any nation that might want to swallow them 


up. 

If this is true with regard to the place where one lives, which is in constant 
need of defense and military protection, it is equally true with regard to every other 
human activity, such as prophecy, the establishment of royal authority, or 
propaganda (for a cause). Nothing can be achieved in these matters without fighting 
for it, since man has the natural urge to offer resistance. And for fighting one cannot 
do without group feeling, as we mentioned at the beginning. This should be taken as 
the guiding principle of our later exposition. 

God gives success. 



8. Group feeling results only from (blood) relation 
ship or something corresponding to it. 


(Respect for) blood — ties is something natural among men, with the rarest 
exceptions. It leads to affection for one's relations and blood relatives, (the feeling 
that) no harm ought to befall them nor any destruction come upon them. One feels 
shame when one's relatives are treated unjustly or attacked, and one wishes to 
intervene between them and whatever peril or destruction threatens them. This is a 
natural urge in man, for as long as there have been human beings. If the direct 
relationship between persons who help each other is very close, so that it leads to 
close contact and unity, the ties are obvious and clearly require the (existence of a 
feeling of solidarity) without any outside (prodding). If, however, the relationship is 
somewhat distant, it is often forgotten in part. However, some knowledge of it 
remains and this causes a person to help his relatives for the known motive, in order 
to escape the shame he would feel in his soul were a person to whom he is somehow 

related treated unjustly— 

Clients and allies belong in the same category. The affection everybody has 
for his clients and allies results from the feeling of shame that comes to a person 
when one of his neighbors, relatives, or a blood relation in any degree (of kinship) 
is humiliated. The reason for it is that a client(-master) relationship leads to close 
contact exactly, or approximately in the same way, as does common descent. It is in 
that sense that one must understand Muhammad's remark, "Learn as much of your 

pedigrees as is necessary to establish your ties of blood relationship." — It means 
that pedigreesare useful only in so far as they imply the close contact that is a 
consequence of blood ties and that eventually leads to mutual help and affection. 
Anything beyond that is superfluous.— For a pedigree is something imaginary and 

devoid of reality.— Its usefulness consists only in the resulting connection and close 
contact. If the fact of (common descent) is obvious and clear, it evokes in man a 
natural affection, as we have said. If, however, its existence is known only from 
remote history, it moves the imagination but faintly. Its usefulness is gone, and 
preoccupation with it becomes gratuitous, a kind of game, and as such is not 
permissible. In this sense, one must understand the remark, "Genealogy is 

something that is of no use to know and that it does no harm not to know." — This 
means that when common descent is no longer clear and has become a matter of 
scientific knowledge, it can no longer move the imagination and is denied the 
affection caused by group feeling. It has become useless. 

And God knows better. 


9. Purity of lineage is found only among the savage 
Arabs of the desert and other such people. 

This — is on account of the poor life, hard conditions, and bad habitats that 
are peculiar to the Arabs. They are the result of necessity that destined (these 
conditions) for (the Arabs), in as much as their subsistence depends on camels and 
camel breeding and pasturage. The camels are the cause of (the Arabs') savage life 
in the desert, since they feed on the shrubs of the desert and give birth (to their 
young ones) in the desert sands, as has been mentioned before.— The desert is a 
place of hardship and starvation, but to them it has become familiar and 
accustomed. Generations of (Arabs) grew up in the desert. Eventually, they become 
confirmed in their character and natural qualities. No member of any other nation 
was disposed to share their conditions. No member of any other race felt attracted to 
them. But if one of them were to find ways and means of fleeing from these 
conditions, he would not (do so or) give them up.— Therefore, their pedigrees can 
be trusted not to have been mixed up and corrupted. They have been preserved pure 
in unbroken lines. This is the case, for instance, with Mudar tribes such as the 
Quraysh, the Kinanah, the Thaqif, the Banu Asad, the Hudhayl, and their Khuza'ah 
neighbors. They lived a hard life in places where there was no agriculture or animal 
husbandry. They lived far from the fertile fields of Syria and the 'Iraq, far from the 
sources of seasonings and grains. How pure have they kept their lineages! These are 
unmixed in every way, and are known to be unsullied. 

Other Arabs lived in the hills and at the sources of fertile pastures and 
plentiful living. Among these Arabs were the Himyar and the Kahlan, such as the 
Lakhm, the Judham, the Ghassan, the Tayy, the Quda'ah, and the Iyad. Their 
lineages were mixed up, and their groups intermingled. It is known that people 
(genealogists) differ with respect to each one of these families. This came about as 
the result of intermixture with non- Arabs. They did not pay any attention to 

preserving the (purity of) lineage of their families and groups. This — was done only 
by (true) Arabs. 'Umar said: "Study genealogy, and be not like the Nabataeans of the 
Mesopotamian lowlands. When one of them is asked about his origin, he says: 

'From such and such a village.'"— Furthermore, the Arabs of the fertile fields were 
affected by the general human trend toward competition for the fat soil and the good 
pastures. This resulted in intermingling and much mixture of lineages. Even at the 
beginning of Islam, people occasionally referred to themselves by their places of 
residence. They referred to the Districts of Qinnasrin, of Damascus, or of the 
'Awisim (the border region of northern Syria). This custom was then transferred to 
Spain. It happened not because the Arabs rejected genealogical considerations, but 
because they acquired particular places of residence after the conquest. They 
eventually became known by their places of residence. These became a 
distinguishing mark, in addition to the pedigree, used by (the Arabs) to identify 
themselves in the presence of their amirs. Later on, sedentary (Arabs) mixed with 
Persians and other non- Arabs. Purity of lineage was completely lost, and its fruit, 
the group feeling, was lost and rejected. The tribes, then, disappeared and were 
wiped out, and with them, the group feeling was wiped out. But the (earlier 
situation) remained unchanged among the Bedouins. 

God inherits the earth and whomever is upon it. 



10. How lineages become confused. 


It is clear that a person of a certain descent may become attached to people 
of another descent, either because he feels well-disposed toward them, or because 
there exists an (old) alliance or client(-master) relationship, or yet because he had to 
flee from his own people by reason of some crime he committed. Such a person 
comes to be known as having the same descent as those (to whom he has attached 
himself) and is counted one of them with respect to the things that result from 
(common descent), such as affection, the rights and obligations concerning talion 
and blood money, and so on. When the things which result from (common) descent 
are there, it is as if (common descent) itself were there, because the only meaning of 
belonging to one or another group is that one is subject to its laws and conditions, as 
if one had come into close contact with it. In the course of time, the original descent 
is almost forgotten. Those who knew about it have passed away, and it is no longer 
known to most people. Family lines in this manner continually changed from one 
tribal group to another, and some people developed close contact with others (of a 
different descent). This happened both in pre-Islamic and in Islamic times, and 
between both Arabs and non- Arabs. If one studies the different opinions concerning 

the pedigree of the family of al-Mundhir ^ anc j others, the matter will become 
somewhat clearer. 

The affair of the Bajilah and Arfajah b. Harthamah is an(other) illustration. 
When 'Umar appointed 'Arfajah their governor, (the Bajilah) asked ('Umar) to 

withdraw him, saying that he was a nazif — among them, that is, one who had come 
to them from outside and attached himself to them. They asked that he appoint Jarir 
(instead). 'Umar asked 'Arfajah about this, and he replied: "They are right, O 
Commander of the Faithful. I am from the Azd. I shed blood among my people, and 

joined (the Bajilah)." — This shows how 'Arfajah had come to mix with the Bajilah, 
had become of their skin, and was known as one having the same descent as they, to 
the extent that he could eventually become a candidate for leadership over them, 

(and would have) had someone not remembered the genealogical ramifications. Had 
they overlooked it and had (still) more time elapsed, (his foreign origin) would have 
been forgotten, and he would have been considered one of them in every respect. 

This should be understood and pondered as one of God's ways with His 
creatures. Similar things occur frequently in our own times, and have always been 

frequent in former times.— 


11. Leadership over people who share in a given 
group feeling cannot be vested in those not 

of the same descent 

This is because leadership exists only through superiority, and superiority 

only through group feeling, as we have mentioned before.— Leadership over people, 
therefore, must, of necessity, derive from a group feeling that is superior to each 
individual group feeling. Each individual group feeling that becomes aware of the 
superiority of the group feeling of the leader is ready to obey and follow (that 
leader). 

Now, a person who has become attached to people of a common descent 
usually does not share the group feeling that derives from their common descent. He 
is merely attached to them.— The firmest connection he has with the group is as 
client and ally. This in no way guarantees him superiority over them. Assuming that 
he has developed close contact with them, that he has mixed with them, that the fact 
that he was originally merely attached to them has been forgotten, and that he has 
become one of their skin and is addressed as one having the same descent as they, 
how could he, or one of his forebears, have acquired leadership before that process 
had taken place, since leadership is transmitted in one particular branch that has 
been marked for superiority through group feeling? The fact that he was merely 
attached to the tribe was no doubt known at an earlier stage, and at that time 
prevented him (or rather, his forebears) from assuming leadership. Thus, it could not 
have been passed on by (a man) who was still merely attached (to the tribe). 
Leadership must of necessity be inherited from the person who is entitled to it, in 
accordance with the fact, which we have stated, that superiority results from group 
feeling. 

Many leaders of tribes or groups are eager to acquire certain pedigrees. They 
desire them because persons of that particular descent possessed some special virtue, 
such as bravery, or nobility, or fame, however this may have come about. They go 
after such a family and involve themselves in claims to belong to a branch of it. 
They do not realize that they thus bring suspicion upon themselves with regard to 
their leadership and nobility. 

Such things are frequently found among people at this time. Thus, the 
Zanatah in general claim to be Arabs. The Awlad Rabab, who are known as the 
Hijazis and who belong to the Banu 'Amir, one of the branches of the Zughbah, 
claim that they belong to the Banu Sulaym and, in particular, to the Sharid, a branch 
of the Bani Sulayin. Their ancestor is said to have joined the Banu 'Amir as a 
carpenter who made biers. He mixed with them and developed a close contact with 
them. Finally, he became their leader. He was called by them al-Hijazi. 

Similarly, the Banu 'Abd-al-Qawi b. al-'Abbas of the Tiljin claim to be 
descendants of al-'Abbas b. 'Abd-alMuttalib, because they want to have noble 
descent (from the family of the Prophet), and hold a mistaken opinion concerning 
the name of al-'Abbas b. 'Asiyah, the father of 'Abd-alQawi. It is not known that 
any 'Abbasid ever entered the Maghrib. From the beginning of the 'Abbasid dynasty 
and thereafter, the Maghrib was under the influence of the Idrisids and the 
'Ubaydid(-Fatimids), 'Alid enemies of the 'Abbasids. No 'Abbasid would have 
become attached to a Shi'ah. 


Similarly, the Zayyanids, the 'Abd-al-Wadid rulers (of Tlemcen), claim to be 
descendants of al-Qasim b. Idris, basing their claim on the fact that their family is 
known to have descended from al-Qasim. In their own Zanitah dialect, they are 

called Ait al-Qasim— that is, Banu-l-Qasim. They claim that the Qasim (after whom 
they are named) was alQasim b. Idris, or al-Qasim b. Muhammad b. Idris. If that 
were true, all that can be said concerning that Qasim is that he fled his own realm 
and attached himself to (the Zanatah group of the 'Abd-al-Wad). How, then, could 
he have gained complete leadership over them in the desert? The story is an error 
resulting from the name of al-Qasim, which is very frequent among the Idrisids. 

(The Zayyanids), therefore, thought that their Qasim was an Idrisid. (But after all,) 
they hardly need so spurious a genealogy. They gained royal authority and power 
through their group feeling, not through claims to 'Alid, 'Abbasid, or other descent. 

These things are invented by people to get into the good graces of rulers, 
through (sycophantic) behavior and through the opinions they express. Their 
(fabrications) eventually become so well known as to be irrefutable. I have heard 

that Yaghamrasin — b. Zayyan, the founder of the Zayyanid rule, when he was asked 
about (the alleged Idrisid descent of his family), denied it. He expressed himself in 
the Zanatah dialect as follows: "We gained worldly power and royal authority with 
our swords, not through (noble) family connections. The usefulness of (our royal 

authority for us) §4a in the next world depends on God." And he turned away from 
the person who, in this way, had hoped to get into his good graces. 

Another example is the claim of the Banu Sa'd, shaykhs of the Banu Yazid 
of the Zughbah, to be descendants of (the Caliph) Abu Bakr as-Siddiq. Then, there 
is the claim of the Banu Salimah, shaykhs of the Banu Yadlaltin (Idlelten) of the 
Titjin, that they belong to the Sulaym, as well as the claim of the Dawawidah, 

shaykhs of the Riyah, that they are descendants of the Barmecides.^ We also hear 
that the Banu Muhanna', amirs of the Tayy in the East, claim to be descendants of 
the Barmecides. There are many such examples. The fact that these groups are the 
leaders among their peoples speaks against their claims to such pedigrees, as we 
have mentioned. Their common descent (with their people) must be pure, and they 
must enjoy the strongest possible group feeling (in their own tribe, to have gained 
the leadership). Were this taken into consideration, errors in this matter would be 
avoided. 

The connection of the Mahdi of the Almohads with the 'Alid family should 
not be considered a case of this type. The Mahdi did not belong to the leading 
family among his people, the Harghah. He became their leader after he had become 
famous for his knowledge and religion, and by virtue of the fact that the Masmudah 
tribe followed his call. Yet, he belonged to a (Harghah) family of medium rank.— 

God knows the unseen and the visible. 


12. Only those who share in the group feeling (of a 
group) can have a "house'' and nobility in the 
basic sense and in reality, while others have it 
only in a metaphorical and figurative sense. 


This is because nobility and prestige are the result of (personal) qualities. A 

"house" — means that a man counts noble and famous men among his forebears. 
The fact that he is their progeny and descendant gives him great standing among his 
fellows, for his fellows respect the great standing and nobility that his ancestors 
acquired through their (personal) qualities. 

With regard to their growth and propagation, human beings can be compared 
to minerals. Muhammad said: "Men are minerals. The best ones in pre-Islamic 

times are also the best ones in Islam, if they are understanding." ^2 "Prestige" in its 
proper meaning refers to (family) descent. 

We have explained that the advantage of (common) descent consists in the 
group feeling that derives from it and that leads to affection and mutual help. 
Wherever the group feeling is truly formidable and its soil kept pure, the advantage 
of a (common) descent is more evident (than elsewhere), and the (group feeling) is 
more effective. It is an additional advantage to have a number of noble ancestors. 
Thus, prestige and nobility become firmly grounded in those who share in the group 
feeling (of a tribe), because there exists (in them) the result of (common) descent. 
The nobility of a "house" is in direct proportion to the different degrees of group 
feeling, because (nobility) is the secret of (group feeling). 

Isolated — inhabitants of cities can have a "house" only in a metaphorical 
sense. The assumption that they possess one is a specious claim. Seen in its proper 
light, prestige means to the inhabitants of cities that some of them count among their 
forefathers men who had good (personal) qualities and who mingled with good 
people, and (that, in addition, they) try to be as decent as possible. This is different 
from the real meaning of group feeling, as group feeling derives from (common) 
descent and a number of forefathers. The terms "prestige" and "house" are used 
metaphorically in this connection, because there exists in this case a number of 
successive ancestors who consistently performed good deeds. This is not true and 

unqualified prestige. 22 

A "house" possesses an original nobility through group feeling and 
(personal) qualities. Later on, the people (who have a "house") divest themselves of 
that nobility when group feeling disappears as the result of sedentary life, as 
mentioned before, — and they mingle with the common people. A certain delusion 
as to their former prestige remains in their souls and leads them to consider 

themselves members of the most noble houses.— They are, however, far from that 
(status), because their group feeling has completely disappeared. Many inhabitants 
of cities who had their origins in (noble) Arab or non- Arab "houses" share such 
delusions. 

The Israelites are the most firmly misled in this delusion. They originally 
had one of the greatest "houses" in the world, first, because of the great number of 
prophets and messengers born among their ancestors, extending from Abraham to 


Moses, the founder of their religious group and law, and next, because of their 
group feeling and the royal authority that God had promised and granted them by 
means of that group feeling. Then, they were divested of all that, and they suffered 
humiliation and indigence. They were destined to live as exiles on earth. For 

thousands of years, they knew only enslavement and unbelief — Still, the delusion of 
(nobility) has not left them. They can be found saying: "He is an Aaronite"; "He is a 
descendant of Joshua"; "He is one of Caleb's progeny"; "He is from the tribe of 
Judah." This in spite of the fact that their group feeling has disappeared and that for 

many long years they have been exposed to humiliation.— Many other inhabitants of 
cities who hold (noble) pedigrees but no longer share in any group feeling, are 
inclined to (utter) similar nonsense. 

Abul-Walid b. Rushd (Averroes) erred in this respect. He mentioned prestige 
in the Rhetoric, one of the abridgments of the books of the first science.— 

"Prestige," he states, "belongs to people who are ancient settlers in a town." He did 
not consider the things we have just mentioned. I should like to know how long 
residence in a town can help (anyone to gain prestige), if he does not belong to a 
group that makes him feared and causes others to obey him. (Averroes,) in a way, 

considers prestige as depending exclusively on the number of forefathers. Yet,— 
rhetoric means to sway the opinions of those whose opinions count, that is, the men 
in command. It takes no notice of those who have no power. They cannot sway 
anyone's opinions, and their own opinions are not sought. The sedentary inhabitants 
of cities fall into that category. It is true that Averroes grew up in a generation 
(group) and a place where people had no experience of group feeling and were not 
familiar with the conditions governing it. Therefore, (Averroes) did not progress 
beyond his well-known (definition of) "house" and prestige as something depending 
merely on the number of one's ancestors, and did not refer to the reality of group 
feeling and its influence among men. 

"God knows everything." — 


13. "House" and nobility come to clients and 
followers only through their masters and 
not through their own descent. 


This is because, as we have mentioned before, only those who share in a 
group feeling have basic and true nobility. When such people take people of another 

descent as followers, or when they take slaves— and clients into servitude, and enter 
into close contact with them, as we have said, the clients and followers share in the 
group feeling of their masters and take it on as if it were their own group feeling. By 
taking their special place within the group feeling, they participate to some extent in 
the (common) descent to which (that particular group feeling belongs). Muhammad 
thus said, "The client of people belongs to them, whether he is their client as a slave, 
or as a follower and ally."— 

His own descent and birth are of no help as regards the group feeling of (the 
master), since (that group feeling) has nothing to do with (his own) descent. The 
group feeling that belonged to (his own) family is lost, because its influence 
disappeared when he entered into close contact with that other family and lost 
contact with the men whose group feeling he had formerly shared. He thus becomes 
one of the others and takes his place among them. In the event a number of his 
ancestors also shared the group feeling of these people, he comes to enjoy among 
(these other people) a certain nobility and "house," in keeping with his position as 
their client and follower. However, he does not come to be as noble as they are, but 
remains inferior to them. 

This is the case with clients of dynasties and with all servants. They acquire 
nobility by being firmly rooted in their client relationship, and by their service to 
their particular dynasty, and by having a large number of ancestors who had been 
under the protection of (that dynasty). One knows that the Turkish clients of the 
'Abbisids and, before them, the Barmecides, as well as the Bane Nawbakht, thus 
achieved "house" and nobility and created glory and importance for themselves by 
being firmly rooted in their relationship to the ('Abbisid) dynasty. Ja'far b. Yahyi b. 
Khilid had the greatest possible "house" and nobility. This was the result of his 
position as a client of ar- Rashid and his family. It was not the result of his own 
(noble) descent among the Persians. The same is the case with clients and servants 
under any dynasty. They have "house" and prestige by being firmly rooted in their 
client relationship with a particular dynasty and by being its faithful followers. Their 
original descent disappears (and means nothing), if it is not that of (the dynasty). It 
remains under cover and is not considered in connection with their importance and 
glory. The thing that is considered is their position as clients and followers, because 
this accords with the secret of group feeling which (alone) produces "house" and 
nobility. 

The nobility of (a client) is, in a way, derived from the nobility of his 
masters, and his "house" is derived from what (his masters) have built. His own 
descent and birth do not help him. His glory is built upon his relationship as client to 
a particular dynasty, and upon his close contact with it as a follower and product of 
its education. His own original descent may have implied close contact with some 
group feeling and dynasty. If that (close contact) is gone and the person in question 
has become a client and follower of another (dynasty), his original (descent) is no 


longer of any use to him, because its group feeling has disappeared. The new 
(relationship) becomes useful to him, because (its group feeling) exists. 

This applies to the Barmecides. It has been reported that they belonged to a 
Persian "house," the members of which had been guardians of the fire temples of 
(the Persians). When they became clients of the 'Abbasids, their original (descent) 
was not considered. Their nobility resulted from their position as clients and 
followers of the ('Abbasid) dynasty. 

Everything else is unsupported and unrealistic delusions prompted — by 
undisciplined souls. (The facts of) existence confirm our remarks. "Most noble 
among you in God's (eyes) is he who fears God most." — 


14. Prestige lasts at best four generations in one 
lineage 


It should be known that the world of the elements and all it contains comes 
into being and decays. This applies to both its essences and its conditions. Minerals, 
plants, all the animals including man, and the other created things come into being 
and decay, as one can see with one's own eyes. The same applies to the conditions 
that affect created things, and especially the conditions that affect man. Sciences 
grow up and then are wiped out. The same applies to crafts, and to similar things. 

Prestige is an accident that affects human beings. It comes into being and 
decays inevitably. No human being exists who possesses an unbroken pedigree of 
nobility from Adam down to himself. The only exception was made for the Prophet, 
as a special act of divine grace to him, and as a measure designed to safeguard his 
true character. 

Nobility originates in the state of being outside, as has been said.— That is, 

being outside of — leadership and nobility and being in a vile, humble station, 
devoid of prestige. This means that all nobility and prestige is preceded by the non- 
existence of nobility and prestige, as is the case with every created thing. 

It reaches its end in a single family within four successive generations. This 
is as follows: The builder of the glory (of the family) knows what it cost him to do 
the work, and he keeps the qualities that created his glory and made it last. The son 
who comes after him had personal contact with his father and thus learned those 
things from him. However, he is inferior in this respect to (his father), in as much as 
a person who learns things through study is inferior to a person who knows them 
from practical application. The third generation must be content with imitation and, 
in particular, with reliance upon tradition. This member is inferior to him of the 
second generation, in as much as a person who relies (blindly) upon tradition is 

inferior to a person who exercises independent judgment. SS 

The fourth generation, then, is inferior to the preceding ones in every 
respect. This member has lost the qualities that preserved the edifice of their glory. 
He (actually) despises(those qualities). He imagines that the edifice was not built 
through application and effort. He thinks that it was something due his people from 
the very beginning by virtue of the mere fact of their (noble) descent, and not 
something that resulted from group (effort) and (individual) qualities. For he sees 
the great respect in which he is held by the people, but he does not know how that 
respect originated and what the reason for it was. He imagines that it is due to his 
descent and nothing else. He keeps away from those in whose group feeling he 
shares, thinking that he is better than they. He trusts that (they will obey him 
because) he was brought up to take their obedience for granted, and he does not 
know the qualities that made obedience necessary. Such qualities are humility (in 
dealing) with (such men) and respect for their feelings. Therefore, he considers them 
despicable, and they, in turn, revolt against him and despise him. They transfer 
(political) leadership from him and his direct lineage to some other related branch 
(of his tribe), in obedience to their group feeling, as we have stated. (They do so) 
after they have convinced themselves that the qualities of the (new leader) are 


satisfactory to them. His family then grows, whereas the family of the original 
(leader) decays and the edifice of his "house" collapses. 

This is the case with rulers who have royal authority. It also is the case with 
all the "houses" of tribes, of amirs, and of everybody else who shares in a group 
feeling, and then also with the "houses" among the urban population. When one 
"house" goes down, another one rises in (another group of) the same descent. "If He 
wants them to disappear, He causes them to do so, and brings forth a new creation. 

This is not difficult for God." 

The rule of four (generations) with respect to prestige usually holds true. It 
may happen that a "house" is wiped out, disappears, and collapses in fewer than 
four (generations), or it may continue unto the fifth and sixth (generations), though 
in a state of decline and decay. The four generations can be explained as the 
builder, the one who has personal contact with the builder, the one who relies on 
tradition, and the destroyer. There could not be fewer. 

The fact that prestige lasts four generations is considered (in statements 
discussed) under the subject of praise and glorification. Muhammad said: "The 
noble son of the noble (father) of the noble (grandfather) of the noble (great- 
grandfather): Joseph, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham." — 
This indicates that (Joseph) had reached the limit in glory. 

In the Torah, there is the following passage: "God, your Lord, is powerful — 
and jealous, visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and the 
fourth (generations)." This shows that four generations in one lineage are the limit 
in extent of ancestral prestige. 

The Kitab al-Aghani — reports, in the story of 'Uwayf al-Qawafi, that 
Khosraw asked an-Nu'man whether there was among the Arabs a tribe that was 
nobler than other tribes. And when the answer was yes, he asked: "In what respect 
(does such greater nobility show itself)?" An-Nu'man replied: "(In cases of men) 
with three successive ancestors who were leaders, and where the fourth generation, 

then, was perfect. The 'house' thus belongs to his tribe." — He looked for such 
people and found that the only ones that fulfilled the condition were the family of 
Hudhayfah b. Badr al-Fazari, the house of Qays; the family of Hajib b. Zurarah, the 
house of Tamim; the family of Dhul-Jaddayn, the house of Shayban; and the family 

of al-Ash'ath b. Qays, of the Kindah.^l He assembled those clans and the families 
attached to them, and appointed impartial judges. Hudhayfah b. Badr stood up; then 
al-Ash'ath b. Qays, because of his relationship to an-Nu'man; then Bistam b. Qays 
of the Shayban; then flajib b. Zurarah; and then Qays b. 'Asim. They made long 
speeches. Khosraw (finally) said: "Each one of them is a chieftain who occupies his 
proper place." 

Those "houses" were the ones that enjoyed the greatest reputation among the 
Arabs after the Hashimites. To them belonged also the house of the Banu ad- 

Dayyan,22 0 f the Banul-Harith b. Ka'b, the house of the Yemen. 

All this shows that prestige lasts at best four generations. And God knows 


better. 


15. Savage nations are better able to achieve 
superiority than others. 


It should be known that since, as we have stated in the Third Prefatory 

Discussion,— desert life no doubt is the reason for bravery, savage groups are 
braver than others. They are, therefore, better able to achieve superiority and to take 
away the things that are in the hands of other nations. The situation of one and the 
same group changes, in this respect, with the change of time. Whenever people 

settle in the fertile plains and amass — luxuries and become accustomed to a life of 
abundance and luxury, their bravery decreases to the degree that their wildness and 
desert habits decrease. 

This is exemplified by dumb animals, such as gazelles, wild buffaloes 
(cows), and donkeys, that are domesticated. When they cease to be wild as the result 
of contact with human beings, and when they have a life of abundance, their vigor 
and violence undergo change. This affects even their movements and the beauty of 

their coat.— The same applies to savage human beings who become sociable and 
friendly. 

The reason is that familiar customs determine human nature and character. 
Superiority comes to nations through enterprise and courage. The more firmly rooted 
in desert habits and the wilder a group is, the closer does it come to achieving 
superiority over others, if both (parties are otherwise) approximately equal in 
number, strength, and group (feeling) . 

In this connection, one may compare the Mudar with the Ijimyar and the 
Kahlan before them, who preceded them in royal authority and in the life of luxury, 
and also with the Rabi'ah who settled in the fertile fields of the 'Iraq. The Mudar 
retained their desert habits, and the others embarked upon a life of abundance and 
great luxury before they did. Desert life prepared the Mudar most effectively for 
achieving superiority. They took away and appropriated what the other groups had 
in their hands. 

The same was the case also with the Banu Tayy, the Banu 'Amir b. Sa'sa'ah, 

and the Banu Sulaym b. Mansur — later on. They remained longer in the desert than 
the other Mudar and Yemenite tribes, and did not have any of their wealth. The 
desert habits thus preserved the power of their group feeling, and the habits of 
luxury did not wear it out. They thus eventually became the most powerful (group) 
among (the Arabs). Thus, wherever an Arab tribe leads a life of luxury and 
abundance, while another does not, the one holding fast to desert life the longer will 
be superior to and more powerful than the other, if both parties are (otherwise) equal 
in strength and number. 

This is how God proceeds with His creatures. 


16. The goal to which group feeling leads is royal authority. 


This — is because, as we have mentioned before,— group feeling gives 
protection and makes possible mutual defense, the pressing of claims,— and every 

other kind of social activity. We have also mentioned before — that according to 
their nature, human beings need someone to act as a restraining influence and 
mediator in every social organization, in order to keep the members from (fighting) 
with each other. That person must, by necessity, have superiority over the others in 
the matter of group feeling. If not, his power to (exercise a restraining influence) 
could not materialize. Such superiority is royal authority (mulk). It is more than 
leadership. Leadership means being a chieftain, and the leader is obeyed, but he has 
no power to force others to accept his rulings. Royal authority means superiority and 
the power to rule by force. 

When a person sharing in the group feeling — has reached the rank of 
chieftain and commands obedience, and when he then finds the way open toward 
superiority and (the use of) force, he follows that way, because it is something 
desirable. He cannot completely achieve his (goal) except with the help of the group 
feeling, which causes (the others) to obey him. Thus, royal superiority is a goal to 
which group feeling leads, as one can see. 

Even if an individual tribe has different "houses" and many diverse group 
feelings, still, there must exist a group feeling that is stronger than all the other 
group feelings combined, that is superior to them all and makes them subservient, 
and in which all the diverse group feelings coalesce, as it were, to become one 
greater group feeling. Otherwise, splits would occur and lead to dissension and 
strife. "If God did not keep human beings apart, the earth would perish."— 

Once group feeling has established superiority over the people who share (in 
that particular group feeling), it will, by its very nature, seek superiority over people 
of other group feelings unrelated to the first. If the one (group feeling) is the equal 
of the other or is able to stave off (its challenge), the (competing people) are even 
with and equal to each other. (In this case,) each group feeling maintains its sway 
over its own domain and people, as is the case with tribes and nations all over the 
earth. However, if the one group feeling overpowers the other and makes it 
subservient to itself, the two group feelings enter into close contact, and the 
(defeated) group feeling gives added power to the (victorious) group feeling, which, 
as a result, sets its goal of superiority and domination higher than before. In this 
way, it goes on until the power of that particular group feeling equals the power of 
the ruling dynasty. Then, when the ruling dynasty grows senile and no defender 
arises from among its friends who share in its group feeling, the (new group feeling) 
takes over and deprives the ruling dynasty of its power, and, thus, obtains complete 
royal authority. 

The power of (a given group feeling) may (also) reach its peak when the 
ruling dynasty has not yet reached senility. (This stage) may coincide with the stage 
at which (the ruling dynasty) needs to have recourse to the people who represent the 
various group feelings (in order to master the situation). In such a case, the ruling 
dynasty incorporates (the people who enjoy the powerful group feeling) among its 
clients whom it uses for the execution of its various projects. This, then, means (the 


formation of) another royal authority, inferior to that of the controlling royal 
authority. This was the case with the Turks under the 'Abbasids'— with the 
Sinhajah and the Zanatah in their relation to the Kutamah, and with the Hamdanids 
in their relation to the (Fatimid) 'Alids and the Abbisids. 

It is thus evident that royal authority is the goal of group feeling. When 
(group feeling) attains that goal, the tribe (representing that particular group feeling) 
obtains royal authority, either by seizing actual control or by giving assistance (to 
the ruling dynasty). It depends on the circumstances prevailing at a given time 
(which of the two alternatives applies). If the group feeling encounters obstacles on 
its way to the goal, as we shall explain, it stops where it is, until God decides what 
is going to happen to it. 


17. Obstacles on the way toward royal authority 
are luxury and the submergence of the tribe in a 
life of prosperity. 


The reason for this is that, when a tribe has achieved a certain measure of 
superiority with the help of its group feeling, it gains control over a corresponding 
amount of wealth and comes to share prosperity and abundance with those who have 
been in possession of these things (for a long time). It shares in them to the degree 
of its power and usefulness to the ruling dynasty. If the ruling dynasty is so strong 
that no one would think of depriving it of its power or sharing (its power) with it, 
the tribe in question submits to its rule and is satisfied with whatever share in the 
dynasty's wealth and tax revenue it is permitted to enjoy. Hopes would not go so 
high as to (think of) the royal prerogatives or ways to obtain the (royal authority. 
Members of the tribe) are merely concerned with prosperity, gain, and a life of 
abundance. (They are satisfied) to lead an easy, restful life in the shadow of the 
ruling dynasty, and to adopt royal habits in building and dress, a matter they stress 
and in which they take more and more pride, the more luxuries and plenty they 
obtain, as well as all the other things that go with luxury and plenty. 

As a result, the toughness of desert life is lost. Group feeling and courage 
weaken. Members of the tribe revel in the well-being that God has given them. 

Their children and offspring grow up too proud to look after themselves or to attend 
to their own needs. They have disdain also for all the other things that are necessary 
in connection with group feeling. This finally becomes a character trait and natural 
characteristic of theirs. Their group feeling and courage decrease in the next 
generations. Eventually, group feeling is altogether destroyed. They thus invite 
(their) own destruction. The greater their luxury and the easier the life they enjoy, 
the closer they are to extinction, not to mention (their lost chance of obtaining) royal 
authority. The things that go with luxury and submergence in a life of ease break the 
vigor of the group feeling, which alone produces superiority. When group feeling is 
destroyed, the tribe is no longer able to defend or protect itself, let alone press any 
claims. It will be swallowed up by other nations. 

It has thus become clear that luxury is an obstacle on the way toward royal 
authority. "God gives His kingdom (royal authority) to'whomever He wants to give 
it." 104 


18. Meekness and docility to outsiders that may come 
to be found in a tribe are obstacles on the way 
toward royal authority. 


The reason for this is that meekness and docility break the vigor and 
strength of group feeling. The (very fact) that people are meek and docile shows that 
(their group feeling) is lost. They do not become fond of meekness until they are 1, 
256 too weak to defend themselves. Those who are too weak to defend themselves 
are all the more weak when it comes to withstanding their enemies and pressing 
their claims. 

The Israelites are a good example. Moses urged them togo and become rulers 
of Syria. He informed them that God had made this their destiny. But the Israelites 
were too weak for that. They said: "There are giants in that country, and we shall 

not enter it until the giants have departed." — That is, until God has driven them 
out by manifesting His power, without the application of our group feeling, and that 
will be one of your miracles, O Moses. And when Moses urged them on, they 
persisted and became rebellious, and said: "Go you yourself and your Lord, and 

fight. ,,iaz 

The reason for (their attitude) was that they had become used to being too 
weak to offer opposition and to press claims.— (That is the meaning) required by 
the verse, and it must be interpreted in that manner. (This situation) was the result of 
the quality of docility and the longing to be subservient to the Egyptians, which the 
Israelites had acquired through many long years and which led eventually to the 
complete loss of their group feeling. In addition, they did not really believe what 
Moses told them, namely, that Syria would be theirs and that the Amalekites who 
were in Jericho would fall prey to them, by virtue of the divine decree that God had 
made in favor of the Israelites. They were unable to do (what they were asked to do) 
and felt too weak to do it. They realized that they were too weak to press any 
claims, because they had acquired the quality of meekness. They suspected the story 
their prophet told them and the command he gave them. For that, God punished 
them by obliging them to remain in the desert. They stayed in the desert between 
Syria and Egypt for forty years. They had no contact with civilization nor did they 
settle in any city,— as it is told in the Qur'an.— This was because of the harshness 
the Amalekites in Syria and the Copts in Egypt had practiced against them. Thus, 
they thought themselves too weak to oppose them. From the context and meaning 
of the verse, it is evident that (the verse) intends to refer to the implication of such a 
sojourn in the desert, namely, the disappearance of the generation whose character 
had been formed and whose group feeling had been destroyed by the humiliation, 
oppression, and force from which it had (just) escaped, and the eventual appearance 
in the desert of another powerful generation that knew neither laws nor oppression 
and did not have the stigma of meekness. Thus, a new group feeling could grow up 
(in the new generation), and that (new group feeling) enabled them to press their 
claims and to achieve superiority. This makes it evident that forty years is the 
shortest period in which one generation can disappear and a new generation can 
arise. Praised be the Wise, the Knowing One. 

This shows most clearly what group feeling means. Group feeling produces 


the ability to defend oneself, to offer opposition, to protect oneself, and to press 
one's claims. Whoever loses (his group feeling) is too weak to do any of these 
things. 

The subject of imposts and taxes belongs in this discussion of the things that 
force meekness upon a tribe. 

A tribe paying imposts did not do that until it became resigned to meek 
submission with respect to (paying them). Imposts and taxes are a sign of 
oppression and meekness which proud souls do not tolerate, unless they consider 
(the payment of imposts and taxes) easier than being killed and destroyed. In such a 
case, the group feeling (of a tribe) is too weak for its own defense and protection. 
People whose group feeling cannot defend them against oppression certainly cannot 
offer any opposition or press any claims. They have submitted to humble 
(meekness), and, as we have mentioned before, meekness is an obstacle. 

(An illustration of this fact) is Muhammad's statement in the Sahzh,Hl on 
the subject of plowing. When he saw a plowshare in one of the houses of the Ansar 
(in Medina), he said: "Such a thing never entered anyone's house save accompanied 
by humbleness." This is sound proof for (the contention) that payment of imposts 
makes humbleness necessary. In addition, the humbleness that is the result of paying 
imposts is accompanied by character qualities of cunning and deceit, because force 
rules (under such circumstances). According to the Sahih — the Messenger of God 
used to decry the payment of imposts. When he was asked about it, he said: "A man 
who has to pay imposts talks and lies. He promises, and breaks his promise." When 
one sees a tribe humiliated by the payment of imposts, one cannot hope that it will 
ever achieve royal authority. 

This makes clear that it is erroneous to assume that the Zanatah in the 
Maghrib were sheep-breeding Bedouins who paid imposts to the various rulers of 
their time. As one can see, this is a serious error. Had such been the case, the 
Zanatah would never have achieved royal authority and established a dynasty. 

In this connection, one may compare the words of Shahrbaraz, the ruler of 
Derbend.— 'Abd-ar-Rahman b. Rabi'ah came upon him, and Shahrbaraz asked him 
for his protection with the (promise) that he would belong to him. On that occasion, 
(Shahrbaraz) said: "Today, I am one of you. My hand is in your hands. I am your 
sincere friend. You are welcome. God bless us and you. The poll tax we shall pay 
you will consist in our helping you and doing what you will. But do not humiliate us 
by (imposing the) poll tax. (Otherwise,) you would weaken us to the point of 
(becoming the prey of) your enemies." ^-This story sufficiently (supports) our 
preceding remarks. 


19 ] A sign of (the qualification of an individual for) 
royal authority is his eager desire to acquire 
praiseworthy qualities, and vice versa. 


Royal authority is something natural to human beings, because of its social 

implications, as we have stated.— In view of his natural disposition and his power 
of logical reasoning, man is more inclined toward good qualities than toward bad 
qualities, because the evil in him is the result of the animal powers in him, and in as 
much as he is a human being, he is more inclined toward goodness and good 
qualities. Now, royal and political authority come to man qua man, because it is 
something peculiar to man and is not found among animals. Thus, the good qualities 
in man are appropriate to political and royal authority, since goodness is appropriate 
to political authority. 

We have already mentioned — that glory has a basis upon which it is built 
and through which it achieves its reality. (That basis) is group feeling and the tribal 
group (to which an individual belongs). 

Glory also depends upon a detail that completes and perfects its existence. 
(That detail) is (an individual's personal) qualities. Royal authority is a goal of group 
feeling. Thus, it is likewise a goal of the perfecting details, namely, the (personal) 
qualities. The existence of (royal authority) without the (simultaneous existence of) 
the perfecting details would be like the existence of a person with his limbs cut off, 
or it would be like appearing naked before people. 

The existence of group feeling without the practice of praiseworthy qualities 
would be a defect among people who possess a "house" and prestige. All the more 
so would it be a defect in men who are invested with royal authority, the greatest 
possible kind of glory and prestige. Furthermore, political and royal authority are 
(God's) guarantee to mankind and serve as a representation of God among men with 
respect to His laws. Now, divine laws affecting men are all for their good and 
envisage the interests (of men). This is attested by the religious law. Bad laws, — on 
the other hand, all result from stupidity and from Satan, in opposition to the 
predestination and power of God. He makes both good and evil and predetermines 
them, for there is no maker except Him. 

He who thus obtained group feeling guaranteeing power, and who is known 
to have good qualities appropriate for the execution of God's laws concerning His 
creatures, is ready to act as (God's) substitute and guarantor among mankind. He has 
the qualifications for that. This proof is more reliable and solid than the first one. 

It has thus become clear that good qualities attest the (potential) existence of 
royal authority in a person who (in addition to his good qualities) possesses group 
feeling. Whenever we observe people who possess group feeling and who have 
gained control over many lands and nations, we find in them an eager desire for 
goodness and good qualities, such as generosity, the forgiveness of error, tolerance 
toward the weak, hospitality toward guests, the support of dependents, maintenance 
of the indigent, patience in adverse circumstances, faithful fulfillment of obligations, 
liberality with money for the preservation of honor, respect for the religious law and 
for the scholars who are learned in it, observation of the things to be done or not to 
be done that (those scholars) prescribe for them, thinking highly of (religious 


scholars), belief in and veneration for men of religion and a desire to receive their 
prayers, great respect for old men and teachers, acceptance of the truth in response 
to those who call to it, fairness to and care for those who are too weak to take care 
of themselves, humility toward the poor, attentiveness to the complaints of 
supplicants, fulfillment of the duties of the religious law and divine worship in all 
details, avoidance of fraud, cunning, deceit, and of not fulfilling obligations, and 
similar things. Thus, we know that these are the qualities of leadership, which 
(persons qualified for royal authority) have obtained and which have made them 
deserving of being the leaders of the people under their control, or to be leaders in 
general. It is something good that God has given them, corresponding to their group 
feeling and superiority. It is not something superfluous to them, or something that 

exists as a joke in connection with them. Royal authority is the good and the 
rank that most closely correspond to the group feeling they have. We thus know that 
God granted them royal authority and gave it to them. 

Vice versa, when God wants a nation to be deprived of royal authority, He 
causes (its members) to commit blameworthy deeds and to practice all sorts of vices. 
This will lead to complete loss of the political virtues among them. (These virtues) 
continue to be destroyed, until they will no longer exercise royal authority. Someone 
else will exercise it in their stead. This is to constitute (in addition) an insult to them, 
in that the royal authority God has given them and the good things He has placed at 
their disposal are taken away from them. "When we want to destroy a village, we 
order those of its inhabitants who live in luxury to act wickedly therein. Thus, the 

word becomes true for it, and we do destroy it."— 

Upon close investigation, many instances of what we have said and outlined 
will be found among the nations of the past. God "creates whatever He wishes, and 

His is the choice." 120 

It should be known that a quality belonging to perfection, that tribes 
possessing group feeling are eager to cultivate and which attests to their (right to) 
royal authority, is respect for (religious) scholars, pious men, noble (relatives of the 
Prophet), well-born persons, and the different kinds of merchants and foreigners, as 
well as the ability to assign everybody to his proper station. The respect shown by 
tribes and persons (in control) of group feelings and families, for men of comparable 
nobility, tribal position, group feeling, and rank, is something natural. It mosdy 
results from the (human) desire for rank, or from fear of the people of the person to 
whom respect is paid, or from a wish for reciprocal treatment. However, in the case 
of people who have no group feeling to make themselves feared, and who have no 
rank (to bestow) for which one might hope, there can be no doubt as to why they 
are respected, and it is quite clear what one wants (to find) through them, namely, 
glory, perfection in personal qualities, and total progress toward (a position of) 
political leadership. Respect for one's rivals and equals must exist in connection 

with the special 121 political leadership that concerns one's tribe and its competitors 
(and equals). Respect for excellent and particularly qualified strangers means 
perfection in general political leadership. The pious are thus respected for their 
religion; scholars, because they are needed for establishing the statutes of the 
religious law; merchants, in order to give encouragement (to their profession), so 
that (their) usefulness may be as widespread as possible. Strangers are respected out 
of generosity and in order to encourage (them) to undertake certain kinds (of 
activity). Assigning everybody to his proper station is done out of fairness, and 
fairness means justice. When people who possess group feeling have that, one 
knows that they are ready for general political leadership, which means (they are 
ready for) royal authority. God permits (political leadership) to exist among them, 
because the (characteristic) sign of (political leadership) exists among them. 


Therefore, the first thing to disappear in a tribe that exercises royal authority, when 
God wants to deprive the members of that tribe of their royal and governmental 
authority, is respect for these kinds of people. When a nation is observed to have 
lost (that respect), it should be realized that (all) the virtues have begun to go, and it 
can be expected that the royal authority will cease to exist in it. "If God wants evil 

to happen to certain people, nothing can turn it back." — 


20. While a nation is savage, its royal authority 
extends farther. 


This is because, as we have said,l^ such a nation is better able to achieve 
superiority and full control, and to subdue other groups. The members of such a 
nation have the strength to fight other nations, and they are among human beings 
what beasts of prey are among dumb animals. The Arabs and the Zanatah and 
similar groups, for instance, are such nations, as are the Kurds, the Turkomans, and 
the Veiled Sinhajah. 

These savage peoples, furthermore, have no homelands that they might use 
as a fertile (pasture), and no fixed place to which they might repair. All regions and 
places are the same to them. Therefore, they do not restrict themselves to possession 
of their own and neighboring regions. They do not stop at the borders of their 
horizon. They swarm across distant zones and achieve superiority over faraway 
nations. 

One might compare in this connection what 'Umar is reported to have said 
when he received the oath of allegiance and arose to incite the people to the 
conquest of the ’Iraq. He said: "The Hijaz is your home only in as far as it is a 
pasturage. Those who dwell there have no power over it except in this respect. 
Where do (you) newcomers who emigrated (to Medina) stand with regard to God's 

promise, 'Travel about in the world' God promised it to you in His book for 
your inheritance, when He said, 'In order to give (the true religion) victory over all 
religions, even if the polytheists dislike it.' 

Another example is the condition of the ancient (prelslamic) Arabs, such as 

the Tubba's and the Himyar. They are reported 12^ to have marched from the 
Yemen to the Maghrib at one time, and to the 'Iraq and India at another time. No 
other nation except the Arabs ever did anything like that. 

The condition of the Veiled (Sinhajah) in the Maghrib is another example. 
When they aspired to royal authority, they swarmed out of their desert plains in the 
neighborhood of the Sudan, in the first zone, and overran the Spanish realm in the 
fourth and fifth zones, without any intermediate (stage). 

Such is the case with savage nations. Their (dynasties), therefore, extend 
over a wider area and over regions farther from their (original) center (than do other 
nations). 

God determines night and day. 12^ 


21. As long as a nation retains its group feeling, 
royal authority that disappears in one branch 
will, of necessity, pass to some other branch 
of the same nation. 


The reason for this is that (the members of a particular nation) obtain royal 
authority only after (proving their) forcefulness and finding other nations obedient 
to them. (Only a few) are then singled out to become the actual rulers and to be 
directly connected with the throne. It could not be all of them, because there is not 
enough room for all to compete (for leadership), and because the existence of 
jealousy cuts short the aspirations of many of those who aspire to high office. 

Those who are singled out to support the dynasty indulge in a life of ease 
and sink into luxury and plenty. They make servants of their fellows and 
contemporaries and use them to further the various interests and enterprises of the 
dynasty. Those who are far away from the government and who are thus prevented 
from having a share in it, remain in the shadow of the dynastic power. They share in 
it by virtue of their descent, (but) they are not affected by senility, because they 
remain far from the life of luxury and the things that produce luxury. 

The (passing) days get the upper hand over the original group (in power). 
Their prowess disappears as the result of senility. (The duties of) the dynasty make 

them soft.l^ Time feasts on them, as their energy is exhausted by well-being and 
their vigor drained by the nature of luxury. They reach their limit, the limit that is set 
by the nature of human urbanization (tamaddun) and political superiority. 

Like the silkworm that spins and then, in turn, 

Finds its end amidst the threads itself has spun.^ 3 - 

At that moment, the group feeling of other people (within the same nation) is 
strong. Their force cannot be broken. Their emblem is recognized to be victorious. 
As a result, their hopes of achieving royal authority, from which they had been kept 
until now by a superior power within their own group, are high. Their superiority is 
recognized, and, therefore, no one disputes (their claim to royal authority). They 
seize power. It becomes theirs. Then, they have the same experience (their 
predecessors had) at the hands of those other groups within the nation that remain 
away from (the government). Royal authority thus continues in a particular nation 
until the force of the group feeling of (that nation) is broken and gone, or until all 
its groups have ceased to exist. That is how God proceeds with regard to life in this 
world. "And the other world, according to your Lord, belongs to those who fear 

God." m 

This can be illustrated by what happened among the nations. When the royal 
authority of 'Ad was wiped out, their brethren, the Thamud, took over. They were 
succeeded, in turn, by their brethren, the Amalekites. The Amalekites were 
succeeded by their brethren, the Himyar. The Himyar were succeeded by their 
brethren, the Tubba's, who belonged to the Himyar. They, likewise, were succeeded, 

by the Adhwa'.— Then, the Mudar came to power. 

The same was the case with the Persians. When the Kayyanid — rule was 
wiped out, the Sassanians ruled after them. Eventually, God permitted them all to be 


destroyed by the Muslims. 

The same was also the case with the Greeks. Their rule was wiped out and 
transferred to their brethren, the Rum (Romans). 

The same was the case with the Berbers in the Maghrib. When the rule of 
their first rulers, the Maghrawah and the Kutimah, was wiped out, it went to the 
Sinhajah. Then it went to the Veiled (Sinhajah), then to the Masmudah, and then to 
the (still) remaining Zanatah groups. 

This is how God proceeds with His servants and creatures. 

All this has its origin in group feeling, which differs in the different groups. 
Luxury wears out the royal authority and overthrows it, as we shall mention later on. 
— When a dynasty is wiped out, the power is taken (away) from (the members of 
that dynasty) by those people whose group feeling has a share in the (established) 
group feeling, since it is recognized that submission and subservience (by others) 
belong to (the established group feeling) and since people are used to the fact that 
(the established group feeling) has superiority over all other group feelings. (The 
same group feeling,) now, exists only in those people who are closely related (to the 
outgoing dynasty), because group feeling is proportionate to the degree of 
relationship. (It goes on that way until,) eventually, a great change takes place in the 
world, such as the transformation of a religion, or the disappearance of a 
civilization, or something else willed by the power of God. Then, royal authority is 
transferred from one group to another-to the one that God permits to effect that 
change. This happened to the Mudar. They gained superiority over nations and 
dynasties, and took power away from all the people of the world, after having 
themselves been kept out of power for ages. 


22. The vanquished always want to imitate the victor 
in his distinctive mark(s), his dress, his occupation, 
and all his other conditions and customs. 

The — reason for this is that the soul always sees perfection in the person 
who is superior to it and to whom it is subservient. It considers him perfect, either 
because the respect it has for him impresses it, or because it erroneously assumes 
that its own subservience to him is not due to the nature of defeat but to the 
perfection of the victor. If that erroneous assumption fixes itself in the soul, it 
becomes a firm belief. The soul, then, adopts all the manners of the victor and 
assimilates itself to him. This, then, is imitation. 

Or, the soul may possibly think that the superiority of the victor is not the 
result of his group feeling or great fortitude, but of his customs and manners. This 
also would be an erroneous concept of superiority, and (the consequence) would be 
the same as in the former case. 

Therefore, the vanquished can always be observed to assimilate themselves 
to the victor in the use and style of dress, mounts, and weapons, indeed, in 
everything. 

In this connection, one may compare how children constantly imitate their 
fathers. They do that only because they see perfection in them. One may also 
compare how almost everywhere people are dominated (in the matter of fashion) by 
the dress of the militia and the government forces, because they are ruled by them. 

This goes so far that a nation dominated by another, neighboring nation will 
show a great deal of assimilation and imitation. At this time, this is the case in 
Spain. The Spaniards are found to assimilate themselves to the Galician nations in 
their dress, their emblems, and most of their customs and conditions. This goes so 
far that they even draw pictures on the walls and (have them) in buildings and 
houses. The intelligent observer will draw from this the conclusion that it is a sign 
of domination (by others). God has the power to command.— 

In this light, one should understand the secret of the saying, "The common 

people follow the religion of the ruler." (This saying) belongs to the subject 
under discussion. The ruler dominates those under him. His subjects imitate him, 
because they see perfection in him, exactly as children imitate their parents, or 
students their teachers. 

God is wise and knowing. 


23. A nation that has been defeated and come under 
the rule of another nation will quickly perish. 


The reason for this may possibly lie in the apathy that comes over people 
when they lose control of their own affairs and, through enslavement, become the 
instrument of others and dependent upon them. Hope diminishes and weakens. 

Now, propagation and an increase in civilization (population) take place only as the 
result of strong hope and of the energy that hope creates in the animal powers (of 
man). When hope and the things it stimulates are gone through apathy, and when 
group feeling has disappeared under the impact of defeat, civilization decreases and 
business and other activities stop. With their strength dwindling under the impact of 
defeat, people become unable to defend themselves. They become the victims of 
anyone who tries to dominate them, and a prey to anyone who has the appetite. It 
makes no difference whether they have already reached the limit of their royal 
authority or not. 

Here, we possibly learn another secret, namely, that man is a natural leader 
by virtue of the fact that he has been made a representative (of God on earth). When 
a leader is deprived of his leadership and prevented from exercising all his powers, 
he becomes apathetic, even down to such matters as food and drink. This is in the 
human character. A similar observation may be made with regard to beasts of prey. 
They do not cohabit when they are in human captivity. The group that has lost 
control of its own affairs thus continues to weaken and to disintegrate until it 
perishes. Duration be longs to God alone. 

This may be illustrated by the Persian nation. In the past, the Persians filled 
the world with their great numbers. When their military force was annihilated in the 
days of the Arabs, they were still very numerous. It is said that Sa'd (b. Abi 
Waqqas) counted (the population) beyond Ctesiphon. It numbered 137,000 
(individuals), with 37,000 heads of families. But when the Persians came under the 
rule of the Arabs and were made subject to (oppression by) force, they lasted only a 
short while and were wiped out as if they had never been. One should not think that 
this was the result of some (specific) persecution or aggression perpetrated against 
them. The rule of Islam is known for its justice. Such (disintegration as befell the 
Persians) is in human nature. It happens when people lose control of their own 
affairs and become the instrument of someone else. 

Therefore, the Negro nations are, as a rule, submissive to slavery, because 
(Negroes) have little (that is essentially) human and have attributes that are quite 

similar to those of dumb animals, as we have stated. 

Or, 138 there are those who by accepting slavery hope to obtain high rank or 
to get money or power. This was the case with the Turks in the East, and with the 
Galician infidels and European Christians in Spain. Such people are customarily 
claimed by the dynasty for itself. Thus, they are not ashamed to be slaves, because 
they hope to be chosen for high position by the dynasty. And God knows better. 


24. Arabs can gain control only over flat territory. 


Thi s 148a j s i 3 ecause) on account of their savage nature, (the Arabs) are people 
who plunder and cause damage. They plunder whatever they are able to lay their 
hands on without having to fight or to expose themselves to danger. They then 
retreat to their pastures in the desert. They do not attack or fight except in self- 
defense. Every stronghold or (locality) that seems difficult (to attack), they bypass in 
favor of some less difficult (enterprise). They do not attack it. Tribes that are 
protected against (the Arabs) by inaccessible mountains are safe from their mischief 
and destructiveness. The Arabs would not cross hills or undergo hardship and 
danger in order to get to them. 

Flat territory, on the other hand, falls victim to their looting and prey to their 
appetite whenever they (have the opportunity of) gaining power over it, when there 
is no militia, or when the dynasty is weak. Then they raid, plunder, and attack that 
territory repeatedly, because it is easily (accessible) to them. Eventually, its 
inhabitants succumb utterly to the Arabs and then they are pushed around by them 
in accordance with changes of control and shifts in leadership. Eventually, their 
civilization is wiped out. God has power over His creatures. 


25. Places that succumb to the Arabs are quickly ruined. 


The — reason for this is that (the Arabs) are a savage nation, fully 
accustomed to savagery and the things that cause it. Savagery has become their 
character and nature. They enjoy it, because it means freedom from authority and no 
subservience to leadership. Such a natural disposition is the negation and antithesis 
of civilization. All the customary activities of the Arabs lead to travel and 
movement. This is the antithesis and negation of stationariness, which produces 
civilization. For instance, the Arabs need stones to set them up as supports for their 
cooking pots. So, they take them from buildings which they tear down to get the 
stones, and use them for that purpose. Wood, too, is needed by them for props for 
their tents and for use as tent poles for their dwellings. So, they tear down roofs to 
get the wood for that purpose. The very nature of their existence is the negation of 
building, which is the basis of civilization. This is the case with them quite 
generally. 

Furthermore, it is their nature to plunder whatever other people possess. 

Their sustenance lies wherever the shadow of their lances falls. They recognize no 
limit in taking the possessions of other people. Whenever their eyes fall upon some 
property, furnishings, or utensils, they take it. When they acquire superiority and 
royal authority, they have complete power to plunder (as they please). There no 
longer exists any political (power) to protect property, and civilization is mined. 

Furthermore, since they use force to make craftsmen and professional 
workers do their work, they do not see any value in it and do not pay them for it. 

Now, as we shall mention,— labor is the real basis of profit. When labor is not 
appreciated and is done for nothing, the hope for profit vanishes, and no 
(productive) work is done. The sedentary population disperses, and civilization 
decays. 

Furthermore, (the Arabs) are not concerned with laws. (They are not 
concerned) to deter people from misdeeds or to protect some against the others. 
They care only for the property that they might take away from people through 
looting and imposts. When they have obtained that, they have no interest in 
anything further, such as taking care of (people), looking after their interests, or 
forcing them not to commit misdeeds. They often level fines on property, because 
they want to get some advantage, some tax, or profit out of it. This is their custom. 

It does not help to prevent misdeeds or to deter those who undertake to commit 
(misdeeds). On the contrary, it increases (misdeeds), because as compared to getting 

what one wants, the (possible financial) loss (through fines) is insignificant.141 

Under the rule of (the Arabs), the subjects live as in a state of anarchy, 
without law. Anarchy destroys mankind and mins civilization, since, as we have 
stated, the existence of royal authority is a natural quality of man. It alone 
guarantees their existence and social organization. That was mentioned above at the 

beginning of the chapter. 14^ 

Furthermore, (every Arab) is eager to be the leader. Scarcely a one of them 
would cede his power to another, even to his father, his brother, or the eldest (most 
important) member of his family. That happens only in rare cases and under 


pressure of considerations of decency. There are numerous authorities and amirs 
among them. The subjects have to obey many masters in connection with the control 
of taxation and law. Civilization, thus, decays and is wiped out. 

'Abd-al-Malik asked one Arab who had come to him on an embassy about 
al-Hajjaj. He wanted him to praise alHajjaj for his good political leadership (for the 
benefit of) civilization. But the Arab said: "When I left him, he was acting unjusdy 
all by himself." 142a 

It is noteworthy how civilization always collapsed in places the Arabs took 
over and conquered, and how such settlements were depopulated and the (very) 
earth there turned into something that was no (longer) earth. The Yemen where (the 
Arabs) live is in ruins, except for a few cities. Persian civilization in the Arab 'Iraq is 
likewise completely ruined. The same applies to contemporary Syria. When the 
Banu Hilal and the Banu Sulaym pushed through (from their homeland) to Ifrigiyah 
and the Maghrib in (the beginning of) the fifth [eleventh] century and struggled 
there for three hundred and fifty years, they attached themselves to (the country), 
and the flat territory in (the Maghrib) was completely ruined. Formerly, the whole 
region between the Sudan and the Mediterranean had been settled. This (fact) is 
attested by the relics of civilization there, such as monuments, architectural 
sculpture, and the visible remains of villages and hamlets. 

God inherits the earth and whomever is upon it. He is the best heir.143 


26. Arabs can obtain royal authority only by making 
use of some religious coloring, such as prophecy, 
or sainthood, or some great religious event in general. 


The — reason for this is that because of their savagery, the Arabs are the 
least willing of nations to subordinate themselves to each other, as they are rude, 
proud, ambitious, and eager to be the leader. Their individual aspirations rarely 
coincide. But when there is religion (among them) through prophecy or sainthood, 
then they have some restraining influence in themselves. The qualities of 
haughtiness and jealousy leave them. It is, then, easy for them to subordinate 
themselves and to unite (as a social organization). This is achieved by the common 
religion they now have. It causes rudeness and pride to disappear and exercises a 
restraining influence on their mutual envy and jealousy. When there is a prophet or 
saint among them, who calls upon them to fulfill the commands of God and rids 
them of blameworthy qualities and causes them to adopt praiseworthy ones, and 
who has them concentrate all their strength in order to make the truth prevail, they 
become fully united (as a social organization) and obtain superiority and royal 
authority. Besides, no people are as quick (as the Arabs) to accept (religious) truth 
and right guidance, because their natures have been preserved free from distorted 
habits and uncontaminated by base character qualities. The only (difficulty) lies in 
the quality of savagery, which, however, is easily taken care of and which is ready 
to admit good (qualities), as it has remained in its first natural state and remote from 
the ugly customs and bad habits that leave their impress upon the soul. "Every infant 

is born in the natural state," as is stated in the tradition that was quoted above. 


27. The Arabs are of all nations the one most remote 
from royal leadership. 


The — reason for this is that the Arabs are more rooted in desert life and 
penetrate deeper into the desert than any other nation. They have less need of the 
products and grain of the hills, because they are used to a tough and hard life. 
Therefore, they can dispense with other people. It is difficult for them to subordinate 
themselves to each other, because they are used to (no control) and because they are 
in a state of savagery. Their leader needs them mostly for the group spirit that is 
necessary for purposes of defense. He is, therefore, forced to rule them kindly and to 
avoid antagonizing them. Otherwise, he would have trouble with the group spirit, 
and (such trouble) would be his undoing and theirs. Royal leadership and 
government, on the other hand, require the leader to exercise a restraining influence 
by force. If not, his leadership would not last. 

Furthermore, as we have stated before,— it is the nature of (the Arabs) not 
only to appropriate the possessions of other people but, beyond that, to refrain from 
exercising any (power of) arbitration among them and to fail to keep them from 
(fighting) each other. When they have taken possession of a nation, they make it the 
goal of their rule to profit (from their position) by taking away the property of the 
members of that nation. Beyond that, they do not care to exercise any (power of) 
arbitration among them. They often punish crimes by fines on property, in their 
desire to increase the tax revenues and to obtain some (pecuniary) advantage. That is 
no deterrent (to crime). (Rather,) it is often an incentive (to crime), in view of the 
fact that incentives to commit misdeeds (may be very strong) and that, in the opinion 
of (the criminal), payment of a fine is insignificant, weighed against getting what he 
wants. Thus, misdeeds increase, and civilization is mined. A nation dominated by 
the Arabs is in a state no different from anarchy, where everybody is set against the 
others. Such a civilization cannot last and goes quickly to mins, as would be the 
case in a state of anarchy, as we have mentioned before. 

For all these (reasons), the Arabs are by nature remote from royal leadership. 
They attain it (only) once their nature has undergone a complete transformation 
under the influence of some religious coloring that wipes out all such (qualities) and 
causes the Arabs to have a restraining influence on themselves and to keep people 

apart from each other, as we have mentioned. 148 

This is illustrated by the Arab dynasty in Islam. Religion cemented their 
leadership with the religious law and its ordinances, which, explicitly and implicitly, 
are concerned with what is good for civilization. The caliphs followed one after 
another. As a result, the royal authority and government of the Arabs became great 
and strong. When Rustum saw the Muslims assemble for prayer, he said: " 'Umar 

eats my liver. He teaches the dogs how to behave." 142 

Later on, the Arabs were cut off from the dynasty for generations. They 
neglected the religion. Thus, they forgot political leadership and returned to their 
desert. They were ignorant of the connection of their group feeling with the people 
of the ruling dynasty, because subservience and lawful (government) had (now) 
become strange to them. They became once again as savage as they had been 
before. The epithet "royal" was no longer applicable to them, except in so far as it 


(continued to) apply to the caliphs who were (Arabs) by race. When the caliphate 
disappeared and was wiped out, governmental power passed altogether out of their 
hands. Non- Arabs took over the power in their stead. They remained as Bedouins in 
the desert, ignorant of royal authority and political leadership. Most Arabs do not 
even know that they possessed royal authority in the past, or that no nation had ever 
exercised such (sweeping) royal authority as had their race. The dynasties of 'Ad 
and Thamild, the Amalekites, the Himyar, and the Tubba's testify to that statement, 
and then, there was the Mudar dynasty in Islam, the Umayyads and the 'Abbasids. 
But when the Arabs forgot the religion, they no longer had any connection with 
political leadership, and they returned to their desert origins. At times, they achieve 
superiority over weak dynasties, as is the case in the contemporary Maghrib. But 
their domination leads only to the min of the civilization they conquer, as we have 
stated before. 

God is the best heir. 1 ^ 


28. Desert tribes and groups are dominated by the 
urban population. 


It — 1 has been stated by us before 1^2 that desert civilization is inferior to 
urban civilization, because not all the necessities of civilization are to be found 
among the people of the desert. They do possess some agriculture at home, (but) 
they do not possess (all) the materials that belong to it, most of which (depend on) 
crafts. They do not have any carpenters, tailors, blacksmiths, or other (craftsmen 
whose crafts) would provide them with the necessities required for making a living 
in agriculture and other things. 

Likewise, they do not have (coined) money (dinars and dirhams). They have 
the equivalent of it in harvested grain, in animals, and in animal products such as 
milk, wool (of animals), (camel's) hair, and hides, which the urban population needs 
and pays the Arabs money for. However, while (the Bedouins) need the cities for 
their necessities of life, the urban population needs (the Bedouins) for conveniences 
and luxuries. Thus, (the Bedouins) need the cities for the necessities of life by the 
very nature of their (mode of) existence. As long as they live in the desert and have 
not obtained royal authority and control of the cities, they need the inhabitants (of 
the latter). They must be active in behalf of their interests and obey them whenever 
(the latter) ask and demand obedience from them. 

When there is a ruler in the city, the submissiveness and obedience of (the 
Bedouins) is the result of the superiority of the ruler. When there is no ruler in the 
city, some political leadership and control by some of the inhabitants over the 
remainder must, of necessity, exist in it. If not, the civilization of the city would be 
wiped out. Such a leader makes (the Bedouins) obey him and exert themselves in 
behalf of his interests. He does so either by persuasion, in that he distributes money 
among them and lets them have the necessities they need from his city, which 
enables their civilization to subsist; or, if he has the power to do so, he forces them 
to obey him, even if he has to cause discord among them so as to get the support of 
one party, with the help of which he will then be able to overcome the remainder 
and thus force the others to obey him, since they fear the decay of their civilization 
as the result of (the unstable situation). (These Bedouins) often cannot leave the 
particular districts (where they live and go) to other regions, because all of them are 
(already) inhabited by (other) Bedouins who took them away (from someone) and 
kept others out. They have, therefore, no hope of survival except by being obedient 
to the city. Thus, they are of necessity dominated by the urban population. 

God "exercises forceful domination over His servants." — 


Chapter III 


ON DYNASTIES, ROYAL AUTHORITY, 
THE CALIPHATE, GOVERNMENT RANKS, 
AND ALL THAT GOES WITH THESE THINGS. 
THE CHAPTER CONTAINS BASIC AND 
SUPPLEMENTARY PROPOSITIONS. 


1. Royal authority and large- dynastic (power) are 
attained only through a group and group feeling. 


THIS 2. IS BECAUSE, as we established in the first chapter, aggressive and 
defensive strength is obtained only through group feeling which means (mutual) 
affection and willingness to fight and die for each other. 

Now, royal authority is a noble and enjoyable position. It comprises ah the 
good things of the world, the pleasures of the body, and the joys of the soul. 
Therefore, there is, as a rule, great competition for it. It rarely is handed over 
(voluntarily), but it may be taken away. Thus, discord ensues. It leads to war and 
fighting, and to attempts to gain superiority. Nothing of ah this comes about except 
through group feeling, as we have also mentioned. 

This situation is not at ah understood by the great mass. They forget it, 
because they have forgotten the time when the dynasty first became established. 

They have grown up in settled areas for a long time. They have lived there for 
successive generations. Thus, they know nothing about what took place with God's 
help at the beginning of the dynasty. They merely notice that the coloring of the men 
of the dynasty is determined, that people have submitted to them, and that group 
feeling is no longer needed to establish their power. They do not know how it was at 
the beginning and what difficulties had to be overcome by the founder of (the 
dynasty). The inhabitants of Spain especially have forgotten group feeling and its 
influence, because so long a time has passed, and because as a rule they have no 
need of the power of group feeling, since their country has been annihilated and is 
depleted of tribal groups. 

God has power to do what He wishes. 


2. When a dynasty is, firmly established, it can 
dispense with group feeling. 


The - reason for this is that people find it difficult to submit to large dynastic 
(power) at the beginning, unless they are forced into submission by strong 
superiority. (The new government) is something strange. People are not familiar 
with, or used to, its rule. But once leadership is firmly vested in the members of the 
family qualified to exercise royal authority in the dynasty, and once (royal authority) 
has been passed on by inheritance over many generations and through successive 
dynasties, the beginnings are forgotten, and the members of that family are clearly 
marked as leaders. It has become a firmly established article of faith that one must 
be subservient and submissive to them. People will fight with them in their behalf, 
as they would fight for the articles of faith. By this time, (the rulers) will not need 
much group (feeling to maintain) their power. It is as if obedience to the government 
were a divinely revealed book that cannot be changed or opposed. It is for some 
(good reason) that the discussion of the imamate is placed at the end of works 
dealing with the articles of faith, as if it were one of them - 

(The rulers) maintain their hold over the government and their own dynasty 
with the help, then, either of clients and followers who grew up in the shadow and 

power - of group feeling, or (with that) of tribal groups of a different descent who 
have become their clients. 

Something of the sort happened to the 'Abbasids. The group feeling of the 
Arabs had been destroyed by the time of the reign of al-Mu'tasim and his son, al- 
Wathiq. They tried to maintain their hold over the government thereafter with the 
help of Persian, Turkish, Daylam, Saljuq, and other clients. Then, the Persians (non- 
Arabs) and clients gained power over the provinces (of the realm). The influence of 
the dynasty grew smaller, and no longer extended beyond the environs of Baghdad. 
Eventually, the Daylam closed in upon (that area) and took possession of it. The 
caliphs were ruled by them. Then (the Daylam), in turn, lost control. The Saljugs 
seized power after the Daylam, and the (caliphs) were ruled by them. Then (the 
Saljugs), in turn, lost control. Finally, the Tatars closed in. They killed the caliph 
and wiped out every vestige of the dynasty. 

The same happened to the Sinhajah in the Maghrib. Their group feeling was 
destroyed in the fifth [eleventh] century, or before that. Dynastic (power), but of 
decreasing importance, was maintained by them in al-Mahdiyah, in Bougie, in al- 

Qal'ah,- and in the other frontier cities of Ifriqiyah. Frequently, some rival aspirant 
to royal authority would attack these frontier cities and entrench himself in them. 

Yet, they retained government and royal authority until God permitted their dynasty 
to be wiped out. Then the Almohads came, fortified by the strong group feeling 
among the Masmudah, and obliterated all traces of the (Sinhajah dynasty). 

The same happened to the Umayyad dynasty in Spain. When its Arab group 
feeling was destroyed, the reyes de taifas (small princes) seized power and divided 
the territory among themselves. In competition with each other, they distributed 
among themselves the realm of the (Umayyad) dynasty. Each one of them seized the 
territory under his control and aggrandized himself. (These rulers) learned of the 
relations that existed between the non- Arabs (in the East) and the 'Abbasids. 


(Imitating them,) they adopted royal surnames and used royal trappings. There was 
no danger that anyone would take (the prerogatives they claimed) away from them 
or alter (the situation in this respect), because Spain was no (longer the) home of 
groups and tribes, as we shall mention. They went on in this way, (and it was) as 

Ibn Sharaf - described it: 

What makes me feel humble in Spain 

Is the use of the names Mu'tasim and Mu'tadid there. 

Royal surnames not in their proper place: 

Like a cat that by blowing itself up imitates the lion. 


They tried to maintain their power with the help of clients and followers and 
with that of the Zanatah and other Berber tribes which infiltrated Spain from the 
(African) shore. They imitated the way the (Umayyad) dynasty in its last stages had 
tried to maintain its power with their help, when the Arab group feeling weakened 

and Ibn Abi Amir ^ obtained control of the dynasty. (These newcomers) founded 
large states. Each one of them had control over a section of Spain. They also had a 
large share of royal authority, corresponding to (that of) the dynasty they had 
divided up. They thus remained in power until the Almoravids, who shared in the 
strong Lamtunah group feeling, crossed the sea. The latter came and replaced and 
dislodged them from their centers. They obliterated (all) traces of (the reyes de 
taifas ) who were unable to defend themselves because they had no (longer any) 
group feeling. 

Such group feeling makes it possible for a dynasty to become established and 
protected from the beginning. AtTurtnshi thought that the military (strength) of a 
dynasty as such is identical with (the size of its) army that receives a fixed pay every 
month. He mentioned this in his Siraj almuluk.- His statement does not take into 
consideration the (conditions obtaining at the) original foundation of large dynasties. 
It applies only to the later stages, after the dynasty has been established and after 
royal authority has become firmly anchored in a given family and its people have 
adopted (their) definite coloring. (At-Turtushi) had personal contact only with a 
senile dynasty whose energy was exhausted and which had reverted to maintaining 
power with the help of clients and followers, then hired servants for (its) defense. He 
had contact only with the small dynasties (the reyes de ta'ifas), at a time when the 
Umayyad dynasty was already in the state of (complete) dissolution, when its Arab 
group feeling was wiped out, and when each amir had (independent) control over 
his particular region. He lived under the administration of the Saragossans al- 
Musta'in b. Hud and his son, al-Muzaffar. They had no longer any group feeling 
left, because, for three hundred years, the Arabs had been dominated by luxury and 
had perished. At-Turtushi thus saw only the kind of ruler who had (independent) 
control of royal authority to the exclusion of the families to which it belonged, and 
in whom the coloring of autocratic rule had been firmly established since the time of 
the dynasty('s power) and when a remnant of group feeling still existed. Therefore, 
his (royal authority) was not contested, and he could rely for maintenance of his 
power upon a soldiery with fixed pay. AtTurtushi generalized the condition 
(observed by him) when he made the statement mentioned. He did not realize how a 
dynasty originally comes to power, nor that only those who share in a group feeling 
are able to accomplish (the formation of a dynasty). But this should be realized. It 
should be understood how God intended these things to be. 

"God gives His kingdom (royal authority) to whomever He wants to give it." 


IQ 



3. Members of a royal family may be able to found 
a dynasty that can dispense with group feeling. 

This is because the group feeling in which (a member of a royal family) 
shares may have much power over nations and races, and the inhabitants of remote 
regions who support his power may be obedient (to that family) and submissive. So, 
when such a person secedes, leaving the seat of his rule and the home of his might, 
and joins those inhabitants of remote regions, they adopt him. They support his rule 
and help him. They take care of establishing his dynasty on a firm basis. They hope 
that he will be confirmed in his family (rights) and take the power away from his 
kinsmen.— They do not desire to share in any way in his rule, as they subject 
themselves to his group feeling and submit to the coloring of material superiority 
firmly belonging to him and his people. They believe, as in an article of faith, in 
being obedient to (him and his people). Were they to desire to share his rule with 

him or to rule without him, "the earth would be shaken." 12 

That is what happened to the Idrisids in Morocco and the 'Ubaydid(- 
Fatimids) in Ifriqiyah and Egypt. Abu Talib's descendants had left the East and 
removed themselves from the seat of the caliphate, to go to remote regions of the 
Muslim realm. They aspired to deprive the 'Abbasids of the caliphate whose coloring 
had (throughout the years) firmly established itself in the descendants of 'Abd- 
Manaf, first among the Umayyads and then among the Hashimites ('Abbasids). They 
seceded (from the ruling 'Abbasid dynasty) in the western part of Islam and made 
propaganda for themselves. The Berbers supported their rule time after time. The 
Awrabah and Maghilah (supported) the Idrisids, and the Kutamah, the Sinhajah, and 
the Hawwarah (supported) the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimids). These (Berber tribes) cemented 
the dynasties of (the Idrisids and ’Ubaydids) and firmly established their rule through 
the group support they gave them. They detached the whole Maghrib and then 
Ifriqiyah from the realm of the 'Abbasids. The influence of the 'Abbasid dynasty 
grew steadily smaller and that of the 'Ubaydid (-Fatimids) larger. Eventually, the 
latter took possession of Egypt, Syria, and the Hijiz, and shared the Muslim empire 
half and half with the 'Abbasids.— Nonetheless, the Berbers who supported the 
dynasty submitted their own affairs to the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimids) and obeyed their 
rule. They merely vied for positions under them. They subjected themselves to the 
royal authority that had become the established coloring of the Hashimites (the 
family of Muhammad, the 'AlidFatimids as well as the 'Abbasids), and to the 
superiority over all nations of the Quraysh and the Mudar. Royal authority, 
therefore, remained with their descendants down to (the time of) the complete 
destruction of Arab rule. 

"God decides, and no one can change His decision." — 


4. Dynasties of wide power and large royal authority 
have their origin in religion based either on prophecy 
or on truthful propaganda. 

This — is because royal authority results from superiority. Superiority results 
from group feeling. Only by God's help in establishing His religion do individual 
desires come together in agreement to press their claims, and hearts become united. 
God said: "If you had expended all the treasures on earth, you would have achieved 

no unity among them." — The secret of (this) is that when the hearts succumb to 
false desires and are inclined toward the world, mutual jealousy and widespread 
differences arise. (But) when they are turned toward the truth and reject the world 
and whatever is false, and advance toward God, they become one in their outlook. 
Jealousy disappears. There are few differences. Mutual cooperation and support 
flourish. As a result, the extent of the state widens, and the dynasty grows, as we 
shall explain now. 


5. Religious propaganda gives a dynasty at its 
beginning another power in addition to that 
of the group feeling it possessed as the result of 
the number of its ( supporters ). 


As IS we h ave mentioned before, the reason for this is that religious coloring 
does away with mutual jealousy and envy among people who share in a group 
feeling, and causes concentration upon the truth. When people (who have a religious 
coloring) come to have the (right) insight into their affairs, nothing can withstand 
them, because their outlook is one and their object one of common accord. They are 
willing to die for (their objectives). (On the other hand,) the members of the dynasty 
they attack may be many times as numerous as they. But their purposes differ, in as 

much as they are false 1Z purposes, and (the people of the worldly dynasty) come to 
abandon each other, since they are afraid of death. Therefore, they do not offer 
resistance to (the people with a religious coloring), even if they themselves are more 
numerous. They are overpowered by them and quickly wiped out, as a result of the 
luxury and humbleness existing among them, as we have mentioned before.— 

This happened to the Arabs at the beginning of Islam during the Muslim 
conquests. The armies of the Muslims at al-Qadisiyah and at the Yarmuk numbered 
some 30,000 in each case, while the Persian troops at al-Qadisiyah numbered 

120,000,— and the troops of Heraclius, according to alWaqidi, 400,000.— Neither of 
the two parties was able to withstand the Arabs. (The Arabs) routed them and seized 
what they possessed. 

Another illustration is the Lamtunah (Almoravid) and Almohad dynasties. In 
the Maghrib, there existed many tribes equaling or surpassing them in numbers and 
group feeling. However, their religious organization doubled the strength of their 

group feeling through (their) feeling of having (the right religious) insight — and 
(their) willingness to die, as we have stated, and nothing could withstand them. 

This can also be illustrated (by the situation existing at the time) when the 
religious coloring changes and is destroyed. The power (of the ruling dynasty) is 
then wiped out. Superiority exists then merely in proportion to (the existing) group 
feeling, without the additional (power of) religion. As a result, the dynasty is 
overpowered by those groups (up to this time) under its control, that are equal or 
superior to it in strength. It had formerly overpowered the groups that had. a 
stronger group feeling and were more deeply rooted in desert life, with the help of 
the additional power that religion had given it. 

An illustration of this is the relationship of the Almohads with the Zanatah. 
The Zanatah were deeply rooted in the desert and more savage than the Masmudah, 
but the Masmudah had the religious call to follow the Mahdi. They took on (his 
religious) coloring. As a result, the strength of their group feeling increased many 
times over. Therefore, they were at first able to overpower the Zanatah and to make 
them their followers, even though (the Zanatah) were more strongly rooted in the 
desert and had a stronger group feeling than they. But (later on) when the 
Masmudah lost their religious coloring, the Zanatah rose up against them from every 
side and took their power away from them. "God has the power to execute His 
22 


commands. 



6. Religious propaganda cannot materialize without group feeling. 


This — is because, as we have mentioned before, every mass (political) 
undertaking by necessity requires group feeling. This is indicated in the afore- 
mentioned 24 tradition: "God sent no prophet who did not enjoy the protection of his 
people." If this was the case with the prophets, who are among human beings those 
most likely to perform wonders, one would (expect it to apply) all the more so to 
others. One cannot expect them to be able to work the wonder of achieving 
superiority without group feeling. 

It happened to the Sufi shaykh Ibn Qasi,25 the author of the Kitab Khal' an- 
na' layn on Sufism. He rose in revolt in Spain and made propaganda for the truth 
shortly before the time when the propaganda of the Mahdi (of the Almohads) 
started. His followers were called al-Murabitun— (Ibn Qasi) had some success, 
because the Lamtunah (Almoravids) were preoccupied with their own difficulties 
with the Almohads. (But) there were no groups and tribes there to defend him. When 
the Almohads took over control of the Maghrib, he soon obeyed them and 
participated in their cause. He took the oath of allegiance to them at his stronghold, 
the fortress of Arcos (de la Frontera). He handed his frontier province over to them 
and became their first missionary in Spain. His revolt was called the revolt of the 
Murabitun. 

To this chapter belong cases of revolutionaries from among the common 
people and of jurists who undertake to reform evil (practices). Many religious 
people who follow the ways of religion come to revolt against unjust amirs. They 
call for a change in, and prohibition of, evil (practices) and for good practices. They 
hope for a divine reward for what they do. They gain many followers and 
sympathizers among the great mass of the people, but they risk being killed, and 
most of them actually do perish in consequence of their activities as sinners and 
unrewarded, because God had not destined them for such (activities as they 
undertake). He commands such activities to be undertaken only where there-exists 
the power to bring them to a successful conclusion. Muhammad said: "Should one 
among you see evil activities, he should change them with his hand. If he cannot do 
that, he should change them with his tongue. And if he cannot do that, he should 

change them with his heart." — 

Rulers and dynasties are strongly entrenched. Their foundations can be 
undermined and destroyed only through strong efforts backed by the group feeling 
of tribes and families, as we have mentioned before. Similarly, prophets in their 
religious propaganda depended on groups and families, though they were the ones 
who could have been supported by God with anything in existence, if He had 
wished, but in His wisdom — He permitted matters to take their customary course. 

If someone who is on the right path were to attempt (religious reforms) in 
this way, (his) isolation would keep him from (gaining the support of) group 

feeling,— and he would perish. If someone merely pretends to (achieve religious 
reforms) in order to gain (political) leadership, he deserves to be hampered by 
obstacles and to fall victim to perdition. (Religious reforms) are a divine matter that 
materializes only with God's pleasure and support, through sincere devotion for Him 


and in view of good intentions towards the Muslims. No Muslim, no person of 
insight, could doubt this (truth). 

In Islam, the first person to start that sort of thing in Baghdad was a certain 
Khalid ad-Daryush.— Tahir had revolted. Al-Amin was killed. Al-Ma'mun in 
Khurasin was slowed down in his advance toward the 'Iraq, and he appointed 'Ali b. 
Musa ar-Rida, a descendant of al-Husayn, successor to the throne. The 'Abbasids 
showed their disapproval (of that move). They banded together in order to revolt and 
to renounce obedience to al-Ma'mun and to choose some one else in his stead. 
Allegiance was sworn to Ibrahim b. al-Mahdi. Trouble broke out in Baghdad. The 
troublesome elements among the underworld and the soldiery were given a free 
hand against the decent citizens. They robbed the people and filled their pockets 
with loot, which they sold openly in the markets. The inhabitants turned for 
protection to the authorities, but these did not help them. The religious and good 
citizens, thereupon, united in order to stop the criminals and to put an end to their 
misdeeds. At that moment, a man named Khalid ad-Daryush appeared in Baghdad. 
He appealed to the people to obey the law. Many responded to his call. They fought 
the troublesome elements and defeated them. Khalid had them beaten and punished. 
After him, there appeared another man from among the populace of Baghdad,— by 
name Abu Hatim Sahl b. Salamah al-Ansari. He hung a copy of the Qur'an around 
his neck, and appealed to the people to obey the law and to act in accordance with 
the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet. High and low, Hashimites and others, all 
followed him. He established himself in the palace of Tahir and took over the 
government office(s). He went about Baghdad, kept out all those who were 

frightening wayfarers, and put an end to the payment of protection money — to the 
underworld. When Khalid adDaryush said to him that he (Khalid) was not against 
the government, Sahl replied that he (for his part) was fighting all those who acted 
contrary to the Qur'an and the Sunnah, whoever they might be. This happened in the 
year 201 [817]. Ibrahim b. al-Mahdi sent an army against (Sahl). He was defeated 
and captured, and his power quickly dissolved. He barely escaped with his life. 

Later on, many deluded individuals followed, that example. They took it 
upon themselves to establish the truth. They did not know that they would need 
group feeling for that. They did not realize how their enterprise must necessarily end 
and what they would come to. With respect to such people, it is necessary to adopt 
one of the following courses. One may either treat them, if they are insane, or one 
may punish them either by execution or beatings when they cause trouble, or one 

may ridicule them and treat them as buffoons. — 

Some of these people allied themselves with the Expected Fatimid.23 They 
pretended to be, either he himself, or one of his missionaries, despite their ignorance 
of everything concerning the Fatimid. Most men who adopt such ideas will be found 
to be, either deluded and crazy, or to be swindlers who, with the help of such 
claims, seek to obtain (political) leadership -which they crave and would be unable 
to obtain in the natural manner. They believe that such claims will be instrumental in 
bringing to them the fulfillment of their hopes. They do not consider the disaster that 
will overtake them in consequence. The trouble they create will speedily cause their 
death and bring their trickery to a bitter end. 

At the beginning of this century, a man of Sufi leanings, by name at- 

Tuwayziri, appeared in as-Sus. He went to the Mosque of Massah —on the shore of 
the Mediterranean and pretended to be the Expected Fatimid. He was taking 
advantage of the common people's firm belief in predictions to the effect that the 
Fatimid was about to appear and that his mission would originate at that Mosque. A 

number of ordinary Berber groups were attracted to him like moths (to the flame).— 


Their chiefs then feared that the revolt might spread. The leader of the Masmudah at 

that time, 'Umar asSaksiwi,— secretly sent someone to him, who killed him in his 
bed. 

Also at the beginning of this century, a man known as al-'Abbas appeared 
among the Ghumarah. He made a similar claim. The lowest among the stupid and 
imbecile members of those tribes followed his blethering. He marched on Badis, one 
of the (Ghumarah) cities, and entered it by force. He was then killed, forty days after 

the start of his mission. He perished like those before him.^ 

There are many similar cases.— The mistake (they all make) is that they 
disregard the significance of group feeling (for success) in such matters. If deceit is 
involved, it is better that such a person should not succeed and be made to pay for 

his crime. "That is the sinners' reward." — 


7. Each dynasty has a certain amount of provinces and 
lands, and no more. 


The reason for this is that the group to which a given dynasty belongs and 
the people who support and establish it, must of necessity be distributed over the 
provinces and border regions which they reach and take into possession. Only thus 
is it possible to protect them against enemies andto enforce the laws of the dynasty 

relative to the collection of taxes, restrictions, — and other things. 

When the (various) groups have spread over the border regions and 
provinces, their numbers are necessarily exhausted. This, then, is the time when the 
territory (of the dynasty) has reached its farthest extension, where the border regions 
form a belt around the center of the realm. If the dynasty then undertakes to expand 
beyond its holdings, it(s widening territory) remains without military protection and 
is laid open to any chance attack by enemy or neighbor. This has the detrimental 
result for the dynasty of the creation of boldness toward it and of diminished respect 
for it. (On the other hand,) if the group is a very large one and its numbers are not 
exhausted when distributed over border regions and territories, the dynasty retains 
the strength to go beyond the limit (so far reached), until its expansion has gone as 
far as possible. 

The natural reason for this (situation) lies in the fact that the power of group 
feeling is one of the natural powers. Any power resulting in any kind of action must 

proceed in its action in such manner.— 

A dynasty is stronger at its center than it is at its border regions. When it has 
reached its farthest expansion, it becomes too weak and incapable to go any farther. 
This may be compared to light rays that spread from their centers, or to circles that 
widen over the surface of the water when something strikes it. 

When the dynasty becomes senile and weak, it begins to crumble at its 
extremities. The center remains intact until God permits the destruction of the whole 
(dynasty). Then, the center is destroyed. But when a dynasty is overrun from the 
center, it is of no avail to it that the outlying areas remain intact. It dissolves all at 

once. The center is like the heart from which the (vital) spirit — spreads. Were the 
heart to be overrun and captured, all the extremities would be routed. 

This may be observed in the Persian dynasty. Its center was al-Mada'in 
(Ctesiphon). When the Muslims took over al-Mada'in, the whole Persian empire 
dissolved. Possession of the outlying provinces of the realm was of no avail to 
Yazdjard. 

Conversely, the center of the Byzantine dynasty in Syria was in 
Constantinople. When the Muslims took Syria away from the Byzantines, the latter 
repaired to their center in Constantinople. The loss of Syria did not harm them. Their 

rule continued there without interruption until God permitted it to be ended -- 

Another example is the situation of the Arabs at the beginning of Islam. 

Since they were a very large group, they very quickly overran neighboring Syria, 
'Iraq, and Egypt. Then, they kept on going, into Western India (as- Sind), Abyssinia, 
Ifrigiyah, and the Maghrib, and later into Spain. They spread over many provinces 
and border regions, and settled in them as militiamen. Their numbers were 


exhausted by that expansion. No further conquests could be made by them, and the 
Muslim empire reached its farthest extension. Those borders were not passed, but 
the dynasty receded from them, until God permitted it to be destroyed. 

The situation of later dynasties was the same. Each dynasty depended on the 
numerical strength of its supporters. When its numbers were exhausted through 
expansion, no further conquest or extension of power was possible. This is how God 
proceeds with His creatures. 



8. The greatness of a dynasty, the extent of its 
territory, and the length of its duration depend 
upon the numerical strength of its supporters. 


The reason for this is that royal authority exists only through group feeling. 
Representatives of group feeling are the militiamen who settle in the provinces and 
territories of the dynasty and are spread over them. The more numerous the tribes 
and groups of a large dynasty are, the stronger and larger are its provinces and 
lands. Their royal authority, therefore, is wider. 

An example of this was the Muslim dynasty when God united the power of 
the Arabs in Islam. The number of Muslims who participated in the raid against 

Tabuk, the Prophet's last raid, was 110,000,=^ (consisting of) Mudar and Qahtin 
horsemen and foot soldiers. That number was augmented by those who became 
Muslims after the (raid) and down to the time of the Prophet's death. When (all 
these people) then set out to seek for themselves the royal authority held by (other) 
nations, there was no protection against them or refuge. They were allowed (to take 
possession of) the realms of the Persians and the Byzantines who were the greatest 
dynasties in the world at that time, (as well as the realms) of the Turks in the East, 
of the European Christians and Berbers in the West (Maghrib), and of the Goths in 

Spain. They went from the Hijiz to as-Sus in the far west,— and from the Yemen to 
the Turks in the farthest north. They gained possession of all seven zones. 

One may also look at the Sinhajah and Almohad dynasties and their 
relationship to the 'Ubaydid (-Fitimids) before them. The Kutimah, supporters of the 
'Ubaydid(-Fatimid) dynasty, were more numerous than the Sinhajah and the 
Masmudah. Consequently, their dynasty was larger. They took possession of 
Ifriqiyah and the Maghrib, as well as of Syria, Egypt, and the Hijaz. One may also 
look at the later Zanatah dynasty. Since the number of the Zanatah was smaller than 
that of the Masmt dah, their royal authority fell short of that of the Almohads, 
because (the Zanatah) were numerically inferior to the MasmGdah from the very 
start. One may also consider the situation of the two Zanatah dynasties at this time, 
the Merinids and the 'Abd-al-Wadids. The Merinids were numerically stronger than 
the 'Abd-alWadids when they first seized power. Therefore, their dynasty was 
stronger and larger than that of the 'Abd-alWadids. Time after time, (the Merinids) 
defeated (the 'Abdal-Wadids). It is said that the number of the Merinids at the 
beginning of their rule was three thousand and that of the 'Abd-al-Wadids one 
thousand. However, (possession of) dynastic power with (its) life of ease and the 
(great) number of (its) followers increased their numbers. 

Thus, the expansion and power of a dynasty correspond to the numerical 
strength of those who obtain superiority at the beginning of the rule. The length of 
its duration also depends upon it. The life of anything that comes into being depends 
upon the strength of its temper. The temper of dynasties is based upon group feeling. 
If the group feeling is strong, the (dynasty's) temper likewise is strong, and its life of 
long duration. Group feeling, in turn, depends on numerical strength, as we have 

stated. -- 

The real reason why (large dynasties last longer) is that when collapse comes 
it begins in the outlying regions, and the large dynasty has many such provinces far 


from its center. Each defection that occurs necessarily requires a certain time. The 
time required (for collapse of the dynasty) will be long in such cases, because there 
are many provinces, each of which collapses in its own good time. The duration of a 
large dynasty, therefore, is long. 

This (fact) may be observed in the Arab Muslim dynasty. It lasted the longest 
of (all Muslim) dynasties, counting both the 'Abbasids in the center and the 
Umayyads far away in Spain. Their rule collapsed only after the fourth [tenth] 

century. — The 'Ubaydid(-Fatimids) lasted about 280 years. The Sinhajah dynasty 
did not last as long as that of the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimids), namely, from the time when 
Ma'add al-Mu'izz entrusted Ifrigiyah to Buluggin b. Zirt in the year 358 [969], up to 

the time when the Almohads took possession of al-Qal'ah — and Bougie in the year 
557 [1162], The contemporary Almohad (Hafsid) dynasty has lasted nearly 270 
years. 

Thus, the life of a dynasty depends upon (the number of) its supporters. "This 
is how God formerly proceeded with His servants." — 


9. A dynasty rarely establishes itself firmly in lands 
with many different tribes and groups. 


The — reason for this is the differences in opinions and desires. Behind each 
opinion and desire, there is a group feeling defending it. At any time, therefore, there 
is much opposition to a dynasty and rebellion against it, even if the dynasty 
possesses group feeling, because each group feeling under the control of the ruling 
dynasty thinks that it has in itself (enough) strength and power. 

One may compare what has happened in this connection in Ifriqiyah and the 
Maghrib from the beginning of Islam to the present time. The inhabitants of those 

lands are Berber tribes and groups. The first victory of Ibn Abi Sarh — over them 
and the European Christians (in the Maghrib) was of no avail. They continued to 
rebel and apostatized time after time. The Muslims massacred many of them. After 
the Muslim religion had been established among them, they went on revolting and 
seceding, and they adopted dissident (Kharijite) religious opinions many times. Ibn 

Abi Zayd — said that the Berbers in the Maghrib revolted twelve times and that 
Islam became firmly established among them only during the governorship of Musi 
b. Nusayr and thereafter. This is what is meant by the statement reported on the 
authority of 'Umar, that "Ifriqiyah 'divides' — the hearts of its inhabitants." The 
statement refers to the great number of tribes and groups there, which causes them to 
be disobedient and unmanageable. The 'Iraq at that time was different, and so was 
Syria. The militia of the ('Iraq and Syria) consisted of Persians and Byzantines 
(respectively). All (the inhabitants) were a mixed lot of town and city dwellers. 

When the Muslims deprived them of their power, there remained no one capable of 
making a defense or of offering opposition. 

The Berber tribes in the West are innumerable. All of them are Bedouins and 
members of groups and families. Whenever one tribe is destroyed, another takes its 
place and is as refractory and rebellious as the former one had been. Therefore, it 
has taken the Arabs a long time to establish their dynasty in the land of Ifriqiyah and 
the Maghrib. 

The same was the case in Syria in the age of the Israelites. At that time, there 
existed (there) a very large number of tribes with a great variety of group feelings, 
such as the tribes of Palestine and Canaan, the children of Esau, the Midyanites, the 
children of Lot, the Edomites, the Armenians[!], the Amalekites, Girgashites, and 

the Nabataeans from the Jazirah and Mosul — Therefore, it was difficult for the 
Israelites to establish their dynasty firmly. Time after time, their royal authority was 
endangered. The (spirit of) opposition (alive in the country) communicated itself to 
(the Israelites). They opposed their own government and revolted against it. They 
thus never had a continuous and firmly established royal authority. Eventually they 
were overpowered, first by the Persians, then by the Greeks, and finally by the 
Romans, when their power came to an end in the Diaspora. "God has the power to 

execute His commands." ^ 

On the other hand, it is easy to establish a dynasty in lands that are free from 
group feelings. Government there will be a tranquil affair, because seditions and 
rebellions are few, and the dynasty there does not need much group feeling. This is 


the case in contemporary Egypt and Syria. They are (now) free from tribes and 
group feelings; indeed, one would never suspect that Syria had once been a mine of 
them, as we have (just) stated. Royal authority in Egypt is most peaceful and firmly 
rooted, because Egypt has few dissidents or people who represent tribal groups. 
Egypt has a sultan and subjects. (Egypt's) ruling dynasty consists of the Turkish 
rulers and their groups. They succeed each other in power, and the rule circulates 
among them, passing from one branch to another. The caliphate belongs in name to 
an 'Abbasid, a descendant of the 'Abbasid caliphs of Baghdad. 

The same is the case in contemporary Spain. The group feeling of the ruler 
of (Spain), Ibn al-Ahmar (the Nasrids of Granada), was not strong or widespread to 
begin with. (The Nasrids) belonged to one of the Arab houses that had supported the 
Umayyad dynasty, a few survivors of which remained. This situation came about as 
follows: When the Spaniards were no longer ruled by the Arab dynasty (of the 
Umayyads) and the Lamtanah and Almohad Berbers became their rulers, they 
detested this domination. Their oppression weighed heavily upon them, and their 
hearts were full of hate and indignation against (the new rulers). 

Near the end of the (Almohad) rule, the Almohad lords handed over many of 
their strongholds to the abominable (Christian ruler), in order to gain his support for 
their attempts to capture the capital city of Marrakech. That caused remnants of the 
people in Spain who represented the ancient group feeling to unite. These were 
descendants of Arab houses who had to some degree kept away from urban 
civilization and the cities, and who were firmly rooted in military life. They included 
Ibn Had (of Saragossa), Ibn al-Ahmar (of Granada), and Ibn Mardanish (of Valencia 
and Murcia), and others like them. Ibn Had seized power, made propaganda for the 
'Abbasid caliphate in the East, and caused the people to revolt against the Almohads. 
Allegiance to them was denounced, and they were driven out. Ibn Had thus became 
the independent ruler of Spain. Then, Ibn alAhmar rose to power and opposed Ibn 
Had's propaganda. He made propaganda for Ibn Abi Hafs, the Almohad ruler of 
Ifriqiyah, and seized power with the help of a group of relatives who were called 
"the chiefs." He needed no more people than these, because there were so few 
groups in Spain (at that time) possessing a government ( sultan ) and subjects. Ibn al- 
Ahmar then sought support against the abominable (Christian ruler) from Zanatah 
chieftains who came to him from across the sea. These Zanatah chieftains became 
his associates in defense of the frontier regions and the manning of the garrisons. 

Now, the Zanatah (Merinid) ruler of the Maghrib had hopes of gaining 
power in Spain. But these Zanatah chieftains who were Ibn al-Ahmar's associates 
defended him. His power, eventually, was firmly established. The people became 
used to his rule and could do nothing against him. He bequeathed his power to his 
descendants, who have held it down to the present. One should not think that he was 
without group support. This was not so. He started out with a group, but it was a 
small one. However, it was sufficient for his needs, because there were few groups 
and tribes in (Spain) and, consequently, not much group feeling was needed there, in 
order to gain the upper hand over the Spaniards. 

"God has no need of the worlds." — 


10. By its very nature, the royal authority claims 
all glory for itself and goes in for luxury and 
prefers tranquility and quiet.— 


As — to claiming all glory for itself, this is because, as we have mentioned 
before, royal authority exists through group feeling. Group feeling (such as leads to 
royal authority) is something composite that results from (the amalgamation of) 
many groups, one of which is stronger than all the others. Thus, (a group feeling) is 
able to overcome and gain power over (all the others), and, eventually, brings them 
all under its sway. Thus, social organization and superiority over men and dynasties 
come about. The secret here is that a group feeling extending over the entire tribe 
corresponds to the temper in the things that come into being. Temper is the product 

(of the mixture) of the elements. It has been explained in the proper place that, 
when the elements are combined in equal proportions, no mixture can take place. 

One (element) must be superior to the others, and when (it exercises) its superiority 
over them, mixture occurs. In the same way, one of the various tribal group feelings 
must be superior to all (others), in order to be able to bring them together, to unite 
them, and to weld them into one group feeling comprising all the various groups. All 
the various groups are then under the influence of the superior group feeling. 

This highest group feeling can go only to people who have a "house" and 
leadership among (the tribe). One of those people must be the leader who has 
superiority over them. He is singled out as leader of all the various group feelings, 
because he is superior to all the others by birth. When he is singled out for (the 
position of leadership), he is too proud to let others share in his leadership and 
control over (the people) or to let them participate in it, because the qualities of 
haughtiness and pride are innate in animal nature. Thus, he develops the quality of 
egotism (ta'alluh), which is innate in human beings. 

Moreover, politics requires that only one person exercise control. Were 
various persons, liable to differ among each other, to exercise it, destruction of the 
whole could result. "If there were other gods except God in the two (heaven and 

earth), they (heaven and earth) would have been destroyed." — 

Thus, the aspirations of the various group feelings are blunted. People 
become tame and do not aspire to share with the leader in the exercise of control. 
Their group feeling is forced to refrain (from such aspirations). The leader takes 
charge all by himself, as far as possible. Eventually, he leaves no part in the power 
to anyone else. He thus claims all the glory for himself and does not permit the 
people to share in it. This may come to pass already with the first ruler of a dynasty, 
or it may come to pass only with the second or the third, depending on the resistance 
and strength of the various group feelings, but it is something unavoidable in a 
dynasty. This is how God proceeds with His servants. 

As — to going in for luxury, this is because, when a nation has gained the 
upper hand and taken possession of the holdings of its predecessors who had royal 
authority, its prosperity and well-being grow. People become accustomed to a great 
number of things. From the necessities of life and a life of austerity, they progress 
to the luxuries and a life of comfort and beauty. They come to adopt the customs 
and (enjoy) the conditions of their predecessors. Luxuries require development of 


the customs necessary to produce them. People then also tend toward luxury in food, 
clothing, bedding (carpets), and household goods. They take pride in such things and 
vie with other nations in delicacies, gorgeous raiment, and fine mounts. Every new 
generation wants to surpass the preceding one in this respect, and so it goes right 
down to the end of the dynasty. The larger the realm ruled by a dynasty, the greater 
is the share of its people in these luxuries. The limit eventually to be reached is set 
for a particular dynasty by its own power and by the customs of its predecessors. 

This is how God proceeds with His creatures. 

As S3 to preferring tranquility and quiet, this is because a nation obtains 
royal authority only by pressing its claims, having in mind the purpose of obtaining 
superiority and royal authority. When this purpose is accomplished, all efforts cease. 

I wondered at the busy efforts fate made in connection with my relationship 
with her. 

Then, when our relationship had ended, fate became quiet.S^ 

When people have obtained the royal authority, they no (longer) do the 
tiresome chores they had been used to undertake while still in search of it. They 
prefer rest and quiet and tranquility. Now they seek to enjoy the fruits of royal 
authority, such as buildings, dwellings, and clothing. They build castles and install 
running water.— They plant gardens and enjoy life. They prefer rest to tiresome 
chores. They take pride in clothing, food, household goods, and bedding (carpets), as 
much as possible. They get used to this (attitude) and pass it on to later generations. 
It continues to grow in their midst, until God permits His command to be executed. 


11. When the natural (tendencies) of the royal authority 
to claim all glory for itself and to obtain luxury 
and tranquility have been firmly established, 
the dynasty approaches senility. 


This -- can be explained in several ways. 

First: As we have stated, the (royal authority), by its very nature, must claim 
all glory for itself. As long as glory was the common (property) of the group, and all 
members of the group made an identical effort (to obtain glory), their aspirations to 
gain the upper hand over others and to defend their own possessions were expressed 
in exemplary unruliness and lack of restraint. They all aimed at fame. Therefore, 
they considered death encountered in pursuit of glory, sweet, and they preferred 
annihilation to the loss of (glory). Now, however, when one of them claims all glory 
for himself, he treats the others severely and holds them in check. Further, he 
excludes them from possessing property and appropriates it for himself. People, 
thus, become too lazy to care for fame. They become dispirited and come to love 
humbleness and servitude. 

The next generation (of members of the dynasty) grows up in this 
(condition). They consider their allowances the government's payment to them for 
military service and support. No other thought occurs to them. (But) a person would 
rarely hire himself out to sacrifice his life. This (situation) debilitates the dynasty 
and undermines its strength. Its group feeling decays because the people who 
represent the group feeling have lost their energy. As a result, the dynasty 
progresses toward weakness and senility. 

Second: As we have said before, royal authority by its very nature requires 
luxury. People get accustomed to a great number of things. Their expenses are 
higher than their allowances and their income is not sufficient to pay for their 
expenditures. Those who are poor perish. Spendthrifts squander their income on 
luxuries. This (condition) becomes aggravated in the later generations. Eventually, 
all their income cannot pay for the luxuries and other things they have become used 
to. They grow needy. When their rulers urge them to defray the costs of raids and 
wars, they cannot get around it (but they have no money). Therefore, (the rulers) 
impose penalties on the (people) and deprive many of them of their property, either 
by appropriating it for themselves or by handing it over to their own children and 
supporters in the dynasty. In that way, they make the people too weak (financially) 
to keep their own affairs going, and their weakness (then reacts upon the ruler and) 
weakens him. 

Also, when luxury increases in a dynasty and people's income becomes 
insufficient for their needs and expenses, the ruler, that is, the government, must 
increase their allowances in order to tide them over and remedy their unsound 
condition. The amount of tax revenue, however, is a fixed one. It neither increases 
nor decreases. When it is increased by new customs duties, the amount to be 
collected as a result of the increase has fixed limits (and cannot be increased again). 
And when the tax revenues must go to pay for recently increased allowances that 
had to be increased for everybody in view of new luxuries and great expenditures, 
the militia decreases in number from what it had been before the increase in 

allowances.— 


Luxury, meanwhile, is still on the increase. As a result, allowances become 
larger, and the militia decreases in number. This happens a third and a fourth time. 
Eventually, the army is reduced to the smallest possible size. The result is that the 
military defense of the dynasty is weakened and the power of the dynasty declines. 
Neighboring dynasties, or groups and tribes under the control of the dynasty itself, 
become bold and attack it, and God permits it to suffer the destruction that He has 
destined for (all) His creatures. 

Furthermore, luxury corrupts the character. (Through luxury,) the soul 
acquires diverse kinds of evil and sophisticated customs, as will be mentioned in the 
section on sedentary culture.— People lose the good qualities that were a sign and 

indication of (their qualification for) royal authority.— They adopt the contrary bad 
qualities. This points toward retrogression and ruin, according to the way God has 
(planned it) for His creatures in this connection. The dynasty shows symptoms of 
dissolution and disintegration. It becomes affected by the chronic diseases of senility 
and finally dies. 

Third: As we have mentioned,^ royal authority, by its very nature, requires 
tranquility (and rest). When people become accustomed to tranquility and rest and 
adopt them as character traits, they become part of their nature. This is the case with 
all the things to which one grows used and accustomed. 

The new generations grow up in comfort and the ease of luxury and 
tranquility. The trait of savagery (which former generations had possessed) 
undergoes transformation. They forget the customs of desert life that enabled them 
to achieve royal authority, such as great energy, the habit of rapacity, and the ability 
to travel in the wilderness and find one's way in waste regions. No difference 

remains between them and ordinary city dwellers, except for their (fighting) skill — 
and emblems. Their military defense weakens, their energy is lost, and their strength 
is undermined. The evil effects of this situation on the dynasty show themselves in 
the form of senility. 

People, meanwhile, continue to adopt ever newer forms of luxury and 
sedentary culture and of quiet, tranquility, and softness in all their conditions, and to 
sink ever deeper into them. They thus become estranged from desert life and desert 
toughness. Gradually, they lose more and more of (the old virtues). They forget the 
quality of bravery that was their protection and defense. Eventually, they come to 
depend upon some other militia, if they have one. 

An example of this is the nations whose history is available in the books you 
have. What I have said will be found to be correct and admitting of no doubt. 

In a dynasty affected by senility as the result of luxury and rest, it sometimes 
happens that the ruler chooses helpers and partisans from groups not related to (the 
ruling dynasty but) used to toughness. He uses (these people) as an army which will 
be better able to suffer the hardships of wars, hunger, and privation. This could 
prove a cure for the senility of the dynasty when it comes, (but only) until God 
permits His command regarding (the dynasty) to be executed. 

This is what happened to the Turkish dynasty in the East. Most members of 
its army were Turkish clients. The (Turkish) rulers then chose horsemen and soldiers 
from among the white slaves (Mamelukes) who were brought to them. They were 
more eager to fight and better able to suffer privations than the children of the 
earlier white slaves (Mamelukes) who had grown up in easy circumstances as a 
ruling class in the shadow of the government. 

The same was the case with the Almohad fHafsidl dynasty in Ifriqiyah. Their 
rulers often selected their armies from the Zanatah and the Arabs. They used many 


of them, and disregarded their own people who had become used to luxury. Thus, 
the dynasty obtained another, new life, unaffected by senility. 

God inherits the earth and whomever is upon it. 



12. Dynasties have a natural life span like individuals. 


It — should be known that in the opinion of physicians and astrologers, the 
natural life (span) of individuals is one hundred and twenty years, that is, the period 
astrologers call the great lunar year. Within the same generation, the duration of life 
differs according to the conjunctions. It may be either more or less than one hundred 
and twenty years. The life (span) of persons who are under some particular 
conjunction will be a full hundred years. Of others, it will be fifty, or eighty, or 
seventy years, accordingly as the indications of conjunctions noted by these 
observers may require. The life of a Muslim lasts between sixty and seventy years. 

This is stated in the hadith — The natural life span of one hundred and twenty years 
is surpassed only on the occasion of rare configurations and extraordinary positions 
on the firmament. Such was the case with Noah and with a few (individuals) among 
the peoples of 'Ad and Thamud. 

The — same is the case with the life (span) of dynasties. Their durations may 
differ according to the conjunctions. However, as a rule no dynasty lasts beyond the 
life (span) of three generations.— A generation is identical with the average duration 
of the life of a single individual, namely, forty years, (the time) required for growth 
to be completed and maturity reached. God said: "Until when he reaches his 
maturity and reaches the age of forty years...." — Therefore, we have said that the 
(average) duration of the life of an individual is identical with the duration of a 
generation. 

Our statement is confirmed by the significance of the (forty-year) sojourn of 

the children of Israel in the desert.— Those forty (years) were intended to bring 
about the disappearance of the generation then alive and the growth of another 
generation, (one) that had not witnessed and felt the humiliation (in Egypt). This is 
proof of the assumption that (a period of) forty years, which is identical with the 
(average) life of a single individual, must be considered the duration of a 
generation. 

We have stated — that the duration of the life of a dynasty does not as a rule 
extend beyond three generations. The first generation retains the desert qualities, 
desert toughness, and desert savagery. (Its members are used to) privation and to 
sharing their glory (with each other); they are brave and rapacious. Therefore, the 
strength of group feeling continues to be preserved among them. They are sharp and 
greatly feared. People submit to them. 

Under the influence of royal authority and a life of ease, the second 
generation changes from the desert attitude to sedentary culture, from privation to 
luxury and plenty, from a state in which everybody shared in the glory to one in 
which one man claims all the glory for himself while the others are too lazy to strive 
for (glory), and from proud superiority to humble subservience. Thus, the vigor of 
group feeling is broken to some extent. People become used to lowliness and 
obedience. But many of (the old virtues) remain in them, because they had had 
direct personal contact with the first generation and its conditions, and had observed 
with their own eyes its prowess and striving for glory and its intention to protect and 
defend (itself). They cannot give all of it up at once, although a good deal of it may 


go. They live in hope that the conditions that existed in the first generation may 
come back, or they live under the illusion that those conditions still exist. 

The third generation, then, has (completely) forgotten the period of desert 
life and toughness, as if it had never existed. They have lost (the taste for) the 
sweetness of fame and (for) group feeling, because they are dominated by force. 
Luxury reaches its peak among them, because they are so much given to a life of 
prosperity and ease. They become dependent on the dynasty and are like women and 
children who need to be defended (by someone else). Group feeling disappears 
completely. People forget to protect and defend themselves and to press their 
claims. With their emblems, apparel, horseback riding, and (fighting) skill,— they 
deceive people and give them the wrong impression. For the most part, they are 
more cowardly than women upon their backs. When someone comes and demands 
something from them, they cannot repel him. The ruler, then, has need of other, 
brave people for his support. He takes many clients and followers. They help the 
dynasty to some degree, until God permits it to be destroyed, and it goes with 
everything it stands for. 

As one can see, we have there three generations. In the course of these three 
generations, the dynasty grows senile and is worn out. Therefore, it is in the fourth 
generation that (ancestral) prestige is destroyed. This was stated before in connection 
with (the subject) that glory and (ancestral) prestige are restricted to four 
generations.— We have proved it with natural and evident arguments based on 
premises that we established before. The reader should consider that. As an impartial 
person, he should not disregard the truth. 

Three generations last one hundred and twenty years, as stated before. As a 
rule, dynasties do not last longer than that many years, a few more or a few less, 
save when, by chance, no one appears to attack (the dynasty). When senility 
becomes preponderant (in a dynasty), there may be no claimant (for its power, and 
then nothing will happen), but if there should be one, he will encounter no one 
capable of repelling him. If the time is up, (the end of the dynasty) cannot be 

postponed for a single hour, no more than it can be accelerated.— 

In this way, the life (span) of a dynasty corresponds to the life (span) of an 
individual; it grows up and passes into an age of stagnation and thence into 
retrogression. Therefore, people commonly say that the life (span) of a dynasty is 
one hundred years. The saying means the same as what (I have just explained). 

One should consider this and derive from it a rule for finding the correct 
number of ancestors in a pedigree, if one is uncertain about it but knows the time 
interval that the pedigree covers. For each hundred years, one should figure three 
ancestors. If the result tallies with the total number of (ancestors indicated in the 
pedigree, it) is correct. If it is one generation short, there must be an error in the 
number of (ancestors indicated in the pedigree, and) there must be one (ancestor) too 
many in it. If (the result) indicates one generation too many, one (ancestor) must 
have been omitted (from the pedigree). In the same way, one may figure out the 

number of years, if one knows the correct number of ancestors — 

God determines night and day.— 


13. The transition of dynasties from desert life to sedentary culture. 


It should be known that these stages are natural ones for dynasties. The 
superiority through which royal authority is achieved is the result of group feeling 
and of the great energy and rapacious habits which go with it. As a rule, these things 
are possible only in connection with desert life. The first stage of dynasties, 
therefore, is that of desert life. 

When royal authority is obtained, it is accompanied by a life of ease and 
increased opportunities. Sedentary culture is merely a diversification of luxury and a 
refined knowledge of the crafts employed for the diverse aspects and ways of 
(luxury). This concerns, for instance, food, clothing, building, bedding (carpets), 
utensils, and other household needs. Each one of these things requires special 
interdependent crafts serving to refine and improve it. (These crafts) increase in 
number with the (growing) variety of pleasures and amusements and ways and 
means to enjoy the life of luxury the soul desires, and (with the growing number of) 
different things to which people get used. 

The — sedentary stage of royal authority follows the stage of desert life. It 
does so of necessity, as a result of the fact that royal authority is of necessity 
accompanied by a life of ease. In the sedentary stage and under (sedentary) 
conditions, the people of a given dynasty always follow the traditions of the 
preceding dynasty. They observe with their own eyes the circumstances (under 
which the preceding dynasty lived), and, as a rule, learn from them. 

Something of the sort happened to the Arabs during the conquest by which 
they came to rule the Persians and Byzantines and made their daughters and sons 
their servants. At that time, the Arabs had no sedentary culture at all. The story goes 

that when they were given a pillow they supposed it was a bundle of rags.— The 
camphor they found in the treasuries of the Persian king was used by them as salt in 
their dough. There are many similar things. The Arabs, then, enslaved the people of 
the former dynasties and employed them in their occupations and their household 
needs. From among them, they selected skilled masters of the various (crafts), and 
were in turn taught by them to handle, master, and develop them for themselves. In 
addition, the circumstances of the Arabs' life widened and became more diversified. 
Thus, they reached the limit in this respect. They entered the stage of sedentary 
culture, of luxury and refinement in food, drink, clothing, building, weapons, 
bedding (carpets), household goods, music, and all other commodities and 
furnishings. The same (perfection they showed) on their gala days, banquets, and 
wedding nights. In this respect, they surpassed the limit. 

Looking at the reports of al-Mas'udi, at-Tabari, and other (historians) 
concerning the wedding of al-Ma'mun to Burin, daughter of al-Hasan b. Sahl, one 
will be amazed.— They tell about the gifts Burin's father made to the retinue of al- 
Ma'mun when the caliph came by boat to (al-Hasan's) house in Fumm as-silk to ask 
for Bilran's hand. They tell 

about the expenditures for the marriage (settlement, imlak ) and the wedding gifts al- 
Ma'mun gave her and the expenditures for the wedding. On the wedding day, al- 
Hasan b. Sahl gave a lavish banquet that was attended by al-Ma'mun's retinue. To 
members of the first class, al-Hasan distributed lumps of musk wrapped in papers 


granting farms and estates to the holders. Each obtained what chance and luck gave 
him. To the second class, (al-Hasan) distributed bags each of which held 10,000 
dinars. To the third class, he distributed bags with the same amount in dirhams. In 
addition to all this, he had already spent many times as much when al-Ma'min had 
stayed in his house. Also, al-Ma'mun gave Burin a thousand hyacinths (rubies) as 
her wedding gift ( mahr ) on the wedding night. He burned candles of amber each of 

which weighed one hundred maim &Z_a maim being one and twothirds pounds (nt/). 
He had put down for her carpets woven with threads of gold and adorned with 
pearls and hyacinths. When al-Ma'mun saw all this, he said, "That Abu Nuwas is 
admirable! It is as though he had had this (situation and these carpets) before his 
eyes when he said, describing wine: 

As if its small and large shiny bubbles 

Were little pearls upon a ground of gold." — 

One hundred and forty mule loads of wood had been brought three times a 
day for a whole year to the kitchen and were ready for the wedding night. All that 
wood was consumed that very night, Palm twigs were set alight by pouring oil on 
them. Boatmen were ordered to bring boats to transport the distinguished guests on 

the Tigris from Baghdad to the royal palaces in the city of al-Ma'mlin — for the 
wedding banquet. The boats prepared for that purpose numbered 30,000, and they 
carried people back and forth all day long. There were many other such things. 

A similar occasion was the wedding of al-Ma'mun b. Dhi n-nun in Toledo. It 
was described by Ibn Bassam — in the Kitab adh-Dhakhirah and by Ibn Hayyan. 

All these (people) had previously been in the first stage of desert life. They 
had been completely incapable of such things, because, in their low standard of life 
and their simplicity, they lacked both the means and people with technical ability. It 
has been said that al-Hajjaj gave a banquet on the occasion of the circumcision of 
one of his sons. He had one of the Persian landowners brought to him and asked 
him about the banquets the Persians had given (in former times). He asked him to 
tell him about the most lavish banquet he had ever attended. The reply was: "Yes, 
my Lord, I attended the banquet of one of the provincial governors ( marzbans ) of 
the Persian king, given for the inhabitants of Firs. He used golden plates on tables of 
silver, four (plates) to each (table). Each (table) was carried by four maidservants, 
and four persons were seated at each. After they had eaten, the four of them left with 
the table, the plates on it, and the maidservants." (When he heard that,) al-Hajjaj 
merely said, "Boy! Have some camels slaughtered and give the people to eat." He 
realized that he could not afford such sumptuousness as had once actually existed. 

The allowances and gratuities the Umayyads gave (their followers) illustrate 
the point under discussion. In keeping with Arab desert custom, most of (their 
gratuities) consisted of camels. Then, in the 'Abbisid, the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimid), and 
later dynasties, these gratuities, as one knows, came to be large sums of money, 
chests of clothes, and horses with their complete trappings. 

The same situation prevailed among the Kutamah in their relationship with 
the Aghlabids in Ifriqiyah and the Banil Tughsh (Ikhshidids) in Egypt, among the 
Lamtunah in their relationship with the reyes de ta'ifas in Spain and also with the 
Almohads, and among the Zanatah in their relationship with the Almohads, and so 
on. 

Sedentary culture was always transferred from the preceding dynasty to the 
later one. The sedentary culture of the Persians was transferred to the Arab 
Umayyads and 'Abbasids. The sedentary culture of the Umayyads in Spain was 
transferred to the Almohad and Zanatah kings of the contemporary Maghrib. That of 


the 'Abbisids was transferred, successively, to the Daylam, to the Saljuq Turks, to 
the Turks — in Egypt, and to the Tatars in the two 'Iraqs. 

The larger a dynasty, the more important is its sedentary culture. For 
sedentary culture is the consequence of luxury; luxury is the consequence of wealth 
and prosperity and wealth and prosperity are the consequences of royal authority and 
related to the extent of (territorial) possessions which the people of a particular 
dynasty have gained. All the (elements of sedentary culture) are, thus, proportionate 
to the (greater or smaller extent of) royal authority. Upon close and careful 
examination this will be found to be a correct statement as regards civilization and 

dynasties. 22 

God inherits the earth and whomever is upon it. 


14. Luxury will at first give additional strength to a dynasty. 


The — reason for this is that a tribe that has obtained royal authority and 
luxury is prolific and produces many children, and the community grows. Thus, the 
group grows. Furthermore, a greater number of clients and followers is acquired. 

The (new) generations grow up in a climate of prosperity and luxury. Through them, 
(the dynasty) gains in numbers and in strength, because a great number of groups 
form at that time as the result of the numerical increase. When the first and second 
generations are gone and the dynasty starts to become senile, its followers and 
clients cannot do anything on their own to put the dynasty and its royal authority on 
a firmer basis, because they never had authority of their own but were dependent on 
the men of (the dynasty) and (merely) supported it. When the roots are gone, the 
branches cannot be strong on their own, but disappear completely, and the dynasty 
no longer retains its former strength. 

This is exemplified by what happened to the Arab dynasty in Islam. As we 

have stated, -- the Arabs at the time of the Prophet and the early caliphs numbered 
approximately 150,000 Mudar and Qahtan (tribesmen). The life of luxury reached its 
climax in the dynasty. The (population) grew rapidly with the growth of prosperity. 
The caliphs acquired many clients and followers. Thus, the (original) number 
increased many times. It is said that during the conquest of Amorium, al-Mu'tasim 
laid siege to the city with 900,000 men.— This number can hardly fail being correct, 
if one thinks of (the large size of) the Muslim militia of the border regions both far 
and near, in both the East and the West, and adds the soldiers directly in the service 
of the ruler, together with all the clients and followers. 

Al-Mas'udi said: "The descendants of al-'Abbas b. Abd-al-Muttalib were 

counted in the days of al-Ma'mun, in order to give them pensions. They were found 
to number 30,000 men and women." It should be noted how great the number had 
become in less than two hundred years. It should be known that the increase was 
caused by the luxury and prosperity which the (’Abbasid) dynasty had achieved and 
in which the new generations had grown up. Otherwise, the number of Arabs, as it 
had been in the beginning of the conquest, would not even remotely have 
(permitted) such an increase. 

God is "the Creator, the Knowing One." — 


15. The stages of dynasties. How the desert attitude 
differs among the people in the different 

stages 

It should be known that a dynasty goes through different stages and 
encounters new conditions. Through the conditions that are peculiar to a particular 
stage, the supporters of the dynasty acquire in that stage traits of character such as 
do not exist in any other stage. Traits of character are the natural result of the 
peculiar situations in which they are found. 

The conditions and stages of a dynasty are as a rule no more than five (in 
number). 

The first stage is that of success, the overthrow of all opposition, and the 
appropriation of royal authority from the preceding dynasty. In this stage, the ruler 
serves as model to his people by the manner in which he acquires glory, collects 
taxes, defends property, and provides military protection. He does not claim 
anything exclusively for himself to the exclusion of (his people), because (such an 
attitude) is what is required by group feeling, (and it was group feeling) that gave 
superiority (to the dynasty), and (group feeling) still continues to exist as before. 

The second stage is the one in which the ruler gains complete control over 
his people, claims royal authority all for himself, excluding them, and prevents them 
from trying to have a share in it. In this stage, the ruler of the dynasty is concerned 
with gaining adherents and acquiring clients and followers in great numbers, so as to 
be able to blunt the aspirations of the people who share in his group feeling and 
belong to his group, who are of the same descent as he himself and have the same 
claim to royal authority as he has. He keeps them from power and bars them from 
the sources of (power). He stops them from getting to it, and, eventually, all the 
power is in the hands of his family. He reserves all the glory that he is building up to 
the members of his own house. He spends as much, or more, care to keep (his 
people) at a distance and to subdue them, as the first members of the dynasty 
expended in the search for power. The first (members of the dynasty) kept strangers 
away, and all the people who shared in their group feeling supported them in this. 
He, on the other hand, keeps (his) relatives away, and he is supported in this effort 
only by a very small number of people, who are not related to him. Thus, he 
undertakes a very difficult task. 

The third stage is one of leisure and tranquillity in which the fruits of royal 
authority are enjoyed. (These fruits are) the things that human nature desires, such as 
acquisition of property, creation of lasting monuments, and fame. All the ability (of 
the ruler) is expended on collecting taxes; regulating income and expenses, 

bookkeeping and planning — expenditures; erecting large buildings, big 

constructions, spacious cities, and lofty monuments; —presenting gifts to 
embassies of nobles from (foreign) nations and tribal dignitaries; and dispensing 
bounty to his own people. In addition, he supports the demands of his followers and 
retinue with money and positions. He inspects his soldiers, pays them well, and 
distributes fairly their allowances every month. Eventually, the result of this 
(liberality) shows itself in their dress, their fine equipment, and their armor on 
parade days. The ruler thus can impress friendly dynasties and frighten hostile ones 
with (his soldiers). This stage is the last during which the ruler is in complete 
authority. Throughout this and the previous stages, the rulers are independent in 


their opinions. They build up their strength and show the way for those after them. 

The fourth stage is one of contentment and peacefulness. The ruler is content 
with what his predecessors have built. He lives in peace with all his royal peers. He 
adopts the tradition of his predecessors and follows closely in their footsteps. He 
imitates their ways most carefully. He thinks that to depart from tradition would 
mean the destruction of his power and that they knew better (what is good for the 
preservation of) the glory they themselves had built. 

The fifth stage is one of waste and squandering. In this stage, the ruler 
wastes on pleasures and amusements (the treasures) accumulated by his ancestors, 
through (excessive) generosity to his inner circle and at their parties. Also, he 
acquires bad, low- class followers to whom he entrusts the most important matters 
(of state), which they are not qualified to handle by themselves, not knowing which 
of them they should tackle and which they should leave alone. (In addition,) the 
ruler seeks to destroy the great clients of his people and followers of his 
predecessors. Thus, they come to hate him and conspire to refuse support to him. 
(Furthermore) he loses a number of soldiers by spending their allowances on his 
pleasures (instead of paying them) and by refusing them access to his person and not 
supervising them (properly). Thus, he mins the foundations his ancestors had laid 
and tears down what they had built up. In this stage, the dynasty is seized by senility 
and the chronic disease from which it can hardly ever rid itself, for which it can find 
no cure, and, eventually, it is destroyed. We shall explain that in connection with 

conditions to be discussed later on.101 

God is the best heir.lQ^ 


16. The monuments of a given dynasty are proportionate 
to its original power.— 

The reason for this is that monuments owe their origin to the power that 
brought the dynasty into being. The impression the dynasty leaves is proportionate to 
(that power). 

The monuments of a dynasty are its buildings and large (edifices, haykal). 
They are proportionate to the original power of the dynasty. They can materialize 
only when there are many workers and united action and cooperation. When a 
dynasty is large and far-flung, with many provinces and subjects, workers are very 
plentiful and can be brought together from all sides and regions. Thus, even the 
largest monument ( haykal ) can materialize. 

Think of the works of the people of 'Ad and Thamfid, about which the 

Qur'an tells.— Or, one should see with one's own eyes the Reception Hall of 
Khosraw (Iwan Kisra ), that powerful achievement of Persian (architecture). Ar- 
Rashid intended to tear it down and destroy it. He could not do so for all his trouble. 
He began the work, but then was not able to continue. The story of how he asked 

Yahya b. Khalid for advice in that affair is well known.— It is worth noting that one 
dynasty was able to construct a building that another dynasty was not able to tear 
down, even though destruction is much easier than construction. — That illustrates 
the great difference between the two dynasties. 



II a. The Reception Hall of Khosraw in 1869 




II b. The Reception Hall of Khosraw at the beginning of this century 



III a. The Roman Bridge in Cordoba 


r 



III b. The Roman Aqueduct south of Carthage 


One may also compare the Nave of al-Walid in Damascus, the Umayyad 
Mosque in Cordoba, the bridge over the river at Cordoba, and, as well, the arches of 
the aqueduct over which water is brought into Carthage, the monuments of Cherchel 




in the Maghrib, the pyramids of Egypt, and many other such monuments that may 
still be seen. They illustrate differences in strength and weakness that have existed 
among the various dynasties. 

It should be known that all these works of the ancients were possible only 
through engineering skill and the concerted labor of many workers. Only thus could 
these monuments ( haykal ) and works be constructed. One should not think, as the 
common people do, that it was because the ancients had bodies larger in size than 

our own. IQS Human beings do not differ in this respect as much as monuments 
( haykal ) and relics differ. Storytellers have seized upon the subject and used it to 
make exaggerated (fables). They have written stories in this vein about the 'Ad and 
the Thami d and the Amalekites, which are complete lies. One of the strangest of 
these stories is about Og, the son of Anak, one of the Canaanites against whom the 
children of Israel fought in Syria. According to these storytellers, he was so tall that 
he took fish out of the ocean and held them up to the sun to be cooked. — To their 
ignorance of human affairs, the storytellers here add ignorance of astronomical 
matters. They believe that the sun is heat and that the heat of the sun is greatest 
close to it. They do not know that the heat of the sun is (its) light and that (its) light 
is stronger near the earth (than it is near the sun) because of the reflection of the rays 
from the surface of the earth when it is hit by the light. Therefore, the heat here is 
many times greater (than near the sun). When the zone in which the reflected rays 
are effective is passed, there will be no heat there, and it will be cold. (That is) 
where the clouds are. The sun itself is neither hot nor cold, but a simple uncomposed 
substance that gives light. 

Also, (the storytellers) say that Og, the son of Anak, was one of the 

Amalekites or Canaanites HQ who fell prey to the children of Israel when they 
conquered Syria. Now, even those of the children of Israel who at that time were the 
tallest in body, had bodies in size very like our own bodies. This is proven by the 
gates of Jerusalem. They were destroyed and have been restored, but their (original) 
shape and measurements have always been preserved. How, then, could there have 
been such a difference in size between Og and his contemporaries? 

The error of (the storytellers) here results from the fact that they admired the 
vast proportions of the monuments left by nations (of the past), but did not 
understand the different situation in which dynasties may find themselves with 
respect to social organization and co-operation. They did not understand that 
(superior social organization) together with engineering skill, made the construction 
of large monuments possible. Therefore, they ascribed such monuments to a strength 
and energy derived by the peoples of the past from the large size of their bodies. But 
this is not so. 

On the authority of the philosophers, al-Mas'udi expressed the following 
idea, whose only basis is in arbitrary (theorizing): — "When God created the world, 

the nature (element) that gives bodies their form was completely round [?] U2. and 
as strong and perfect as could be. Life lasted longer and bodies were stronger, 
because the nature (element) was then perfect. Death can come only through 
dissolution of the natural powers. When they are strong, life lasts longer. Thus, in 
the beginning, the world had (people whose) lives had their full duration and whose 
bodies were perfect. Because of the deficiency of matter it steadily deteriorated to its 
present condition, and it will not stop deteriorating until the time of (complete) 
dissolution and the destruction of the world." 

This is an opinion that, as one can see, has only arbitrary (theorizing) as its 
authority. There is no natural or logical reason for it. We can see with our own eyes 
the dwellings and doorways of the ancients and the (construction) methods 


employed by them in producing their buildings, their monuments ( haykal ), their 
houses, and (other) dwellings such as the houses of the Thamud, which were hewn 
out of solid rock, and they were small houses with narrow doors. Muhammad 
indicated that those (rock dwellings) were the houses (of the Thamud). He prohibited 
use of their water and (ordered that) the dough for which (the water) had been used 
be thrown out and (the water) poured on the ground. He said: "Do not enter the 
dwellings of those who wronged themselves. Only weep (in fear) lest the same 

misfortune that befell them befall you." The same (reasoning) applies to the land 
of 'Ad, to Egypt, Syria, and all the other regions of the earth in the East and the 
West. The truth is what we have established. 

Another (kind of) monument (to the greatness) of a dynasty is the way it 
handled weddings and (wedding) banquets, as we have mentioned in connection 
with the wedding of Burin and the banquets of al-Hajjaj and Ibn Dhi n-Nun. All that 
has been mentioned before.H4 

Another monument (to the greatness) of a dynasty is the gifts it made. Gifts 
are proportionate to (the importance of a dynasty). (This rule) is operating even 
when the dynasty is close to senility. The aspirations of the members of the dynasty 
are proportionate to (the strength of) their royal authority and their superiority over 
the people. These aspirations remain with them until the final destruction of the 
dynasty. 

One may compare the gifts Ibn Dhi Yazan presented to the Qurashite 
ambassadors. He gave each of them ten pounds (rzf/) of gold and silver and ten 
slaves and maidservants and one flask of ambergris. To 'Abd-al-Muttalib, he gave 
ten times as much.— Ibn Dhi Yazan's realm, as it was located in the Yemen, was 
under the complete control of the Persians at that time. His (generosity), however, 
was caused by his high-mindedness, which stemmed from the royal authority that 
his family, the Tubba's, had possessed in the Yemen, and from the superiority they 

had once exercised over the nations of the two 'Irags, India, and the Maghrib. H6 

Also, when the Sinhajah (Zirids) in Ifrigiyah presented gifts to an embassy 
sent them by the amirs of the Zanatah, they gave them large sums of money and full 

chests of clothes and many fine pack horses. The History of Ibn arRaqiq 
contains many stories of this kind. 

The way the Barmecides gave allowances and gifts and spent their money 
was the same. Whenever they provided for a needy person, it meant property, high 
office, and prosperity for that person for ever after. It was not just an allowance that 
was spent in a day or sooner. There exist numerous stories in literature to this effect 
about (the Barmecides). All the (stories) reflect in the proper proportions the (power 
of the) dynasties (to which they relate). 

When Jawhar al-Katib as-Saqlabi, the general of the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimid) 
army, set out on his conquest of Egypt, he was provided by al-Qayrawan with a 

thousand loads of money.— No dynasty today would be able to approach that.HS 

There exists in the handwriting of Ahmad b. Muhammad b. 'Abd-al-Hamid a 
list showing the receipts of the treasury at Baghdad from all regions (of the realm) in 

al-Ma'mun's day. I copied it from the book of Jirab ad-dawlah;12Q 

The Saw ad (Southern Crops: 27,780,000 dirhams 121 

Mesopotamia) Different kinds of revenue: 

—14,800,000 dirhams 
Najrani cloaks: 200 
Sealing clay: 240 pounds 


Kaskar 


11,600,000 dirhams 


Tigris counties 20,800,000 dirhams 


Hulwan 

Al-Ahwaz 

Firs 

Kirman 

Mukrin 

Western India (Sind) and neighboring 
Territories 

Sijistin 

Khurasan 


Jurjan 

Qumis 

Tabaristan, ar-Ruyan and Nihawand 

129 

ar-Rayy 

Hamadhan 


4.800.000 dirhams 

25.000 dirhams — Sugar: 30,000 
pounds 

27.000. 000 dirhams 

Rose water: 30,000 bottles 
Black raisins: 20,000 pounds 

4.200.000 dirhams 
Yemenite garments: 500 
Dates: 20,000 pounds 

Cumin seeds: 1,000 pounds — 

400.000 dirhams 

11.500.000 dirhams 

Indian aloe wood: 150 pounds 

4.000. 000 dirhams m - 
Checkered —garments: 300 
Sugar-candy: —20,000 pounds 

28.000. 000 dirhams 
Silver ingots: 1,000 
Pack animals: 4,000 
Slaves: 1,000 head 
Garments: 27,000 
Myrobalan: 30,000 pounds 

12.000. 000 dirhams 
Silk: 1,000 pieces — 

1.500.000 dirhams Silver ingots: 1,000 

6.300.000 dirhams 
Tabaristan carpets: 600 pieces 
Robes: 200 

Garments: 500 
Napkins: 300 

Goblets: 300 

12,000,000 dirhams 

Honey: 20,000 pounds — 

11.800.000 dirhams 
Pomegranate marmalade: 1,000 

pounds— 


The region between [I] — al-Basrah 

and al-Kufah 

Honey: 12,000 pounds 

10,700,000 dirhams 

Masabadhin and ar-Ray-yan— 

4,000,000 dirhams 

Shahrazur 

6,000,000 dirhams 135 

Mosul and environs 

24,000,000 dirhams 

White honey: 20,000 pounds 

Azerbaijan 

4,000,000 dirhams 

The Jazirah and neighboring 
Euphrates districts 

34,000,000 dirhams 

Karaj 132 

300,000 dirhams 

Jilan 

5,000,000 dirhams 

Slaves: 1,000 head — 

Honey: 12,000 bags 

Falcons: 10 

Robes: 20 

Armenia 

13,000,000 dirhams 

Embroidered carpets: 20 

Variegated cloth: 580 pounds — 

Salted Surmahi fish: 

10,000 pounds 

Herring: —10,000 pounds 

Mules: 200 Falcons: 30 

Qinnasrin 

400,000 dinars — 

Raisins: 1,000 loads 

Damuscus 

420,000 dinars 

Jordan 

96,000 dinars 

Palestine 

310,000 dinars 

Raisins: 300,000 pounds — 

Egypt 

1,920,000 dinars 

Barca (Barqah) 

1,000,000 dirhams 

Ifriqiyah 

13,000,000 dirhams 

Carpets: 120 

Yemen 

370,000 dinars,— excluding garments 


Hija'z 300,000 dinars 

(End of the list) 

Regarding Spain, reliable historians of (that country) have reported that 
'Abd-ar-Rahman an-Nasir — left 5,000,000 dinars weighing altogether 500 
hundredweight, in his treasuries. 


I have seen in one of the histories of ar- Rashid that in his day the income of 
the treasury was 7,500 hundredweight — each year. 

Regarding — the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimid) dynasty, I have read in the History of 

Ibn Khallikan, with reference to the army commander — al-Afdal b. Badr al-Jamali 
who controlled the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimid) caliphs in Egypt, that when al-Afdal was 
killed, 600,000 dinars and 250 irdabbs of dirhams were found in his treasury, as 
well as a correspondingly large amount of precious stones for rings, pearls, fabrics, 
household goods riding animals, and pack animals. 

As for the dynasties of our own time, the greatest of them is that of the Turks 
in Egypt. It became important in the days of the Turkish ruler an-Nasir Muhammad 
b. Qala'in. At the beginning of his rule, the two amirs, Baybars and Sallar, had 
gained power over him, and Baybars had deposed him and occupied his throne, with 
Sallar as his partner. Then, shortly after an-Nasir regained the rule, he seized (Bay- 
bars') partner Sallar and cleaned out his treasury.— I have come across the 
inventory of that treasury and quote from it: 

Yellow hyacinths — and rubies 15Q 

Emeralds 

Diamonds and cat's- eyes for rings 

Assorted ring-stones 

Round pearls, weighing from one mithqal 

(l 1 / 2 dirhams) to one dirham — 

Coined gold 

A pool full of pure gold 

Purses full of gold, discovered between 
two walls. It is not known how many 
there were. 

Dirhams 

Jewelry 

Also, a proportionately large amount of fabrics, household goods, riding 

animals, pack animals, (grain) crops, — cattle, male and female slaves, 
and estates. 

Still later, we have the Merinid dynasty in Morocco. In their treasury, I 
came across an inventory in the handwriting of the Merinid minister of finance, 
Hassun b. al-Bawwaq.— (The inventory states that) the property left by Sultan Abu 
Sa'id in his treasury was over 700 hundredweight of gold dinars. He also had other 
property of a proportionately large amount. His son and successor, Abu 1-Hasan, 

had even more than that. When he took possession of Tlemcenl^l he foundmore 
than 300 hundredweight of gold in coins and (gold) jewelry, and a correspondingly 
large amount of other property in the treasuries of the Sultan of (Tlemcen), the 'Abd 
al-Wadud Abu Tashfin. 

As to the Almohad (Hafsid) rulers of Ifriqiyah, I lived in the time of their 

ninth ruler, Abu Bakr. He had seized — Muhammad b. al-Hakim, the 
commander of his armies, and had cleaned him out. He got forty hundredweight of 
gold dinars and a bushel of precious stones for rings, as well as pearls. He took an 


4 V 2 pounds 
19 pounds 
900 large pieces 
2 pounds 
1,150 pieces 

1,400,000 dinars 


2,071,000 
4 hundredweight 


amount close to that in carpets from his houses, and a correspondingly large amount 
of estates and other possessions. 

I was in Egypt in the days of al-Malik az-Zahir Abu Sa'id Barquq, who had 
seized power from the descendants of Qala'un, when he arrested his minister of the 

interior, the amir Mahmud^^ anc j confiscated his property. The man charged with 
the confiscation informed me that the amount of gold he cleaned out was 1,600,000 
dinars. There was in addition a proportionately large amount of fabrics, riding 
animals, pack animals, livestock, and (grain) crops. 

A 152 person who looks at these (data) should bear in mind the relative 
(importance) of the various dynasties. He should not reject (data) for which he finds 
no observable parallels in his own time. Otherwise, many things that are possible 
would (be considered impossible by him and) escape his attention.— Many 
excellent men, hearing stories of this kind about past dynasties, have not believed 
them. This is not right. The conditions in the world and in civilization are not 
(always) the same. He who knows a low or medium (level of civilization) does not 
know all of them. When we consider our information about the 'Abbasids, the 
Umayyads, and the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimids) and when we compare what we know to be 
sound in it with our own observations of the less important dynasties (of today), then 
we find a great difference between them. That difference results from differences in 
the original strength of (those dynasties) and in the civilizations (of their realms). As 
we have stated before, all the monuments a dynasty (leaves behind it) are 
proportionate to the original strength (of that dynasty). We are not entitled to reject 
any such (information) about them. Much of it deals with matters that are extremely 
well known and obvious. Part of it is traditional information known through a 
continuous tradition. Part of it is direct information based upon personal observation 
of architectural monuments and other such things. 

One should think of the various degrees of strength and weakness, of bigness 
and smallness, in the various dynasties as they are known through tradition, and 
compare that (information) with the following interesting story. In the times of the 

Merinid Sultan, Abu 'Inan, a shaykh from Tangier, by name Ibn Battutah, 152 came 
(back) to the Maghrib. Twenty years before, he had left for the East and journeyed 
through the countries of the 'Iraq, the Yemen, and India. He had come to the city of 

Delhi, the seat of the ruler of India, the Sultan Muhammad Shah, 151 (The ruler) 
esteemed Ibn Battutah highly and employed him as Malikite judge in his domain. 

He then returned to the Maghrib and made contact with the Sultan Abu 'Inan. He 
used to tell about experiences he had had on his travels and about the remarkable 
things he had seen in the different realms. He spoke mostly about the ruler of India. 
He reported things about him that his listeners considered strange. That, for instance, 
when the ruler of India went on a trip, he counted the inhabitants of his city, men, 
women, and children, and ordered that their requirements for (the next) six months 
be paid them out of his own income. When he returned from his trip and entered 

(the city), it was a festive 152 day. All the people went out into the open country 
and strolled about. In front of (the ruler), in the crowd, mangonels were set up on the 

backs of pack animals.— From the mangonels, bags of dirhams and dinars were 
shot out over the people, until the ruler entered his audience hall. 

Ibn Battutah told other similar stories, and people in the dynasty (in official 
positions) whispered to each other that he must be a liar. During that time, one day I 
met the Sultan's famous wazir, Faris b. Wadrar. I talked to him about this matter and 
intimated to him that I did not believe that man's stories, because people in the 
dynasty were in general inclined to consider him a liar. Whereupon the wazir Faris 
said to me: "Be careful not to reject such information about the conditions of 


dynasties, because you have not seen such things yourself. You would then be like 
the son of the wazir who grew up in prison. The wazir had been imprisoned by his 
ruler and remained in prison several years. His son grew up in prison. When he 
reached the age of reason, he asked his father about the meat which he had been 
eating. (His father) told him that it was mutton, and he asked him what that was. 
When his father described a sheep to him in all details, (the son) said, 'Father, you 
mean, it looks like a rat?' His father was angry with him and said, 'What has a sheep 
to do with a rat?' The same happened later about beef and camel meat. The only 
animals he had seen in prison were rats, and so he believed that all animals were of 
the same species as rats." 

It often happens that people are (incredulous) with regard to historical 
information, just as it also happens that they are tempted to exaggerate certain 
information, in order to be able to report something remarkable. We stated this 

earlier at the beginning of the book.— Therefore, a person should look at his 
sources and rely upon himself. With a clear mind and straightforward, natural 
(common sense) he should distinguish between the nature of the possible and the 
impossible. Everything within the sphere of the possible should be accepted, and 
everything outside it should be rejected. (In using the word "possible") we do not 
have in mind "possible" in the absolute sense of what is intellectually possible. That 
covers a very wide range, so that it cannot be used to determine what is possible in 
actual fact. What we have in mind is the possibility inherent in the matter that 
belongs to a given thing. When we study the origin of a thing, its genus, (specific) 

difference,!^ size, and strength, we can draw conclusions as to (the possibility or 
impossibility) of the data (reported in connection with it). We adjudge to be 
impossible everything outside the sphere of (the possible, in this sense). 

"Say: God, give me more knowledge." — 


17. The ruler seeks the help of clients and followers 
against the men of his own people and 
group feeling. 


It should be known that, as we have stated, a ruler can achieve power 
only with the help of his own people. They are his group and his helpers in his 
enterprise. He uses them to fight against those who revolt against his dynasty. It is 
they with whom he fills the administrative offices, whom he appoints as wazirs and 
tax collectors. They help him to achieve superiority. They participate in the 
government. They share in all his other important affairs. 

This applies as long as the first stage of a dynasty lasts, as we have 
stated.lfiS With the approach of the second stage, the ruler shows himself 

independent of his people,!^ claims all the glory for himself, and pushes his people 
away from it with the palms (of his hands). As a result, his own people become, in 
fact, his enemies. In order to prevent them from seizing power, and in order to keep 
them away from participation (in power), the ruler needs other friends, not of his 
own skin, whom he can use against (his own people) and who will be his friends in 
their place. These (new friends) become closer to him than anyone else. They 
deserve better than anyone else to be close to him and to be his followers, as well as 
to be preferred and to be given high positions, because they are willing to give their 
lives for him, preventing his own people from regaining the power that had been 
theirs and from occupying with him the rank to which they had been used. 

In this (situation), the ruler cares only for his new followers. He singles them 
out for preference and many honors. He distributes among them as much (property) 
as (he does among) most of his own people. He confers upon them the most 
important administrative positions, such as the offices of wazir, general, and tax 
collector, as well as royal titles which are his own prerogative, and which he does 
not share (even) with his own people. (He does this) because they are now his 
closest friends and most sincere advisers. This, then, announces the destruction of 
the dynasty and indicates that chronic disease has befallen it, the result of the loss of 
the group feeling on which the (dynasty's) superiority had been built. The feelings of 
the people of the dynasty become diseased as a result of the contempt in which they 
are held and the hostility the ruler (shows against them). They hate him and await 
the opportunity of a change in his fortune. The great danger inherent in this situation 
reverts upon the dynasty. There can be no hope it will recover from that illness. The 
(mistakes of the) past grow stronger with each successive generation and lead 
eventually to loss of the (dynasty's) identity. 

This is exemplified by the Umayyad dynasty. For their wars and for 
administrative purposes, they had recourse to the support of Arabs such as 'Amr b. 
Sa'd b. Abi Waggas, 'Ubaydallah b. Ziyad b. Abi Sufyan, al-Hajjaj b. Yusuf, al- 
Muhallab b. Abi Sufrah, Khalid b. 'Abdallah al-Qasri, Ibn Hubayrah, Musa b. 
Nusayr, Bilal b. Abi Burdah b. Abi Musa al-Ash'ari, Nasr b. Sayyir, and other Arab 

personalities. For a while 1ZQ t he 'Abbasid dynasty, too, used the support of Arab 
personalities. But when the dynasty came to claim all the glory for itself and kept the 
Arabs from aspiring to administrative positions, the wazirate fell to non- Arabs and 

followers such as the Barmecides, the Banu Sahl b. Nawbakht,-^- and, later, the 


Buyids, and Turkish clients such as Bughi, Wasif, Utamish, Bakiyik (Bayakbak), 

Ibn Tulun, and their descendants, among other non- Arab clients. Thus, the dynasty 
came to belong to people other than those who had established it. The power went to 
people other than those who had first won it. 

This is how God proceeds with His servants. 



18. The situation of clients and followers in dynasties. 


It should be known that followers in a dynasty occupy different positions in 
(the) dynasty depending on whether their close contact with the ruler is of old or of 
recent date. The reason for this is that the purpose of group feeling, which is defense 
and aggression, can materialize only with the help of a common descent. For, as we 

have stated before, 1^2 blood relations and other close relatives help each other, 

while strangers and outsiders do not. Client relationships 1^3 anc j contacts with 
slaves or allies have the same effect as (common descent). The consequences of 

(common) descent, though natural, still are something imaginary.!^ The real thing 
to bring about the feeling of close contact is social intercourse, friendly association, 
long familiarity, and the companionship that results from growing up together, 
having the same wet nurse, and sharing the other circumstances of death and life. If 
close contact is established in such a manner, the result will be affection and co- 
operation. Observation of people shows this to be so. 

Something similar can be observed in connection with the relation between 
master and follower. Between the two, there develops a special closeness of 
relationship which has the same effect (as common descent) and strengthens the 
close contact. Even though there is no (common) descent, the fruits of (common) 
descent are there. 

Whenever such a client relationship exists between a tribe and its clients 
before the tribe has obtained royal authority, the roots of the relationship are more 
firmly intertwined, the feelings and beliefs involved are more sincere, and the 
relationship itself is more clearly defined, for two reasons. 

First: Before (people obtain) royal authority, they are a model in their 

ways.1^2 Only in the rarest cases is a distinction made between (common) descent 
and the client relationship. The position (of clients) is the same as that of close or 
blood relatives. However, if they choose followers after they have obtained royal 
authority, their royal rank causes them to make a distinction between master and 
client, and (another) between close relatives and clients or followers. The conditions 
of leadership and royal authority require this in view of (existing) distinctions and 
differences in rank. The situation (of followers), therefore, is different. They are now 
on the same level as strangers. The close contact between (the ruler and his 
followers) weakens, and co-operation, therefore, becomes less likely. This means 
that followers are now less (close to the ruler) than they were before (the ruler 
obtained) royal authority. 

Second: Followers from before (the time the ruler obtained) royal authority 

had the status of followers long before the dynasty (came to power). 1^6 q j Sj thus, 
no longer clear (to contemporaries) how the close contact (originally) came about. 

As a rule, it is supposed to be a case of (common) descent, and in this case the 
group feeling is strengthened. On the other hand, (follower relationships formed) 
after (the ruler has obtained) royal authority are of recent date and equally well 
known to most people. (The origin of) the close contact is clear, and it is clearly 
distinguishable from (common) descent. The group feeling, in the latter case, is 
weak in comparison with the group feeling that results from the client relationship 


that existed before the dynasty (came to power). 

A look at (known) dynasties and other cases of (political) leadership will 
show this to be so. Follower relationships formed before leadership and royal 
authority were obtained, will be found to show a stronger and closer contact 
between masters and followers. The latter occupy the same position with their 
master as do his children, his brothers, and other blood relatives. On the other hand, 
follower relationships formed after royal authority and (political) leadership were 
obtained do not show the same close connection that exists in the first (group). One 
may observe this with one's own eyes. 

At the end of their power, dynasties eventually resort to employing strangers 
and accepting them as followers. These people, however, do not acquire any such 
glory as the men who had become followers of the dynasty before (it came to 
power) were able to build up for themselves. Their (status as followers) is too recent 
in origin. Also, the destruction of the dynasty is impending. Therefore, they occupy 
a very low and humble position. In taking them on as followers and replacing his old 
clients and original followers by them, the ruler is motivated by the fact that (his old 
clients and followers) have become overbearing. They show little obedience to him. 
They look at him in the same way as his own tribe and relatives do. Close contact 
existed between him and them for a very long time. They had grown up together 
with him, had had connections with his ancestors and older members of his family, 
and were aligned with the great men of his house. (Thus, they are familiar with him) 
and, as a result (of their familiarity with him), they become proud and overbearing 
towards him. This is the reason why the ruler comes to shun them and use others in 
their place. It has been only for a short time that he has come to care for these others 
and to use them as followers. Therefore, they do not attain positions of glory, but 

retain their position as outsiders.-^ 

This is the case with dynasties at their end. As a rule, the words "followers" 
and "clients" are used for the first group. The more recent followers are called 
"servants" and "helpers." 

"God is the friend of the believers." 1^8 


19. Seclusion lZ8a 0 £ anc / con f ro / over, the ruler (by 
others) may occur in dynasties. 


When royal authority is firmly established in one particular family and 
branch of the tribe supporting the dynasty, and when that family claims all royal 
authority for itself and keeps the rest of the tribe away from it, and when the 
children of (that family) succeed to the royal authority in turn, by appointment, then 
it often happens that their wazirs and entourage gain power over the throne. This 
occurs most often when a little child or a weak member of the family is appointed 
successor by his father or made ruler by his creatures and servants. It becomes clear 
that he is unable to fulfill the functions of ruler. Therefore, they are fulfilled by his 
guardian, one of his father's wazirs, someone from his entourage, one of his clients, 
or a member of his tribe. (That person) gives the impression that he is guarding the 
power of the (child ruler) for him. Eventually, it becomes clear that he exercises the 
control, and he uses the fact as a tool to achieve royal authority. He keeps the child 
away from his people. He accustoms him to the pleasures of his life of luxury and 
gives him every possible opportunity to indulge in them. He causes him to forget to 
look at government affairs. Eventually, he gains full control over him. He accustoms 
the (child ruler) to believe that the ruler's share in royal authority consists merely in 

sitting on the throne, shaking hands, 1^2 being addressed as Sire ( mawla ), and sitting 
with the women in the seclusion of the harem. All (exercise of the) actual executive 
power, and the personal handling and supervision of matters that concern the ruler, 
such as inspection of the army, finances, and (defense of) the border regions, are 
believed (by the child ruler) to belong to the wazir. He defers to him in all these 
things. Eventually, the wazir definitely adopts the coloring of the leader, of the man 
in control. The royal authority comes to be his. He reserves it for his family and his 
children after him. 

Such was the case with the Buyids and the Turks, with Kaffir al-Ikhshidi — 
and others in the East, and with alMansur b. Abi 'Amir in Spain. 

It may happen that a ruler who is secluded and deprived of authority 
becomes aware of his situation and contrives to escape from it. He thus regains the 
royal authority for his family. He stops the person who has gained power over it, 
either by killing him or by merely deposing him. However, this happens very rarely. 
Once a dynasty has fallen into the hands of wazirs and clients, it remains in that 
situation. Rarely is it able to escape from it, because (such control by others) is 
mostly the result of living in luxury and of the fact that the royal princes have grown 
up immersed in prosperity. They have forgotten the ways of manliness and have 
become accustomed to the character traits of wet nurses, and they have grown up 
that way. They do not desire leadership. They are not used to exercising sole power, 
the prerogative of superiority. All their ambition requires is the satisfactions of 
pomp and having a great variety of pleasures and luxuries. Clients and followers 
gain superiority when the family of the ruler is in sole control over its people and 
claims all royal authority for itself to their exclusion. This is something that happens 

to dynasties of necessity, as we have stated before. 1^1 

These are two diseases of dynasties which cannot be cured, except in very 
rare cases. 


God gives His kingdom (royal authority) to whomever He wants to give 


it. 


■■182 


20. Those who gain power over the ruler do not share 
with him in the special title that goes with 
royal authority. 


This is because the first men to achieve royal and governmental authority at 
the beginning of the dynasty do so with the help of the group feeling of their people 
and with the help of their own group feeling which causes their people to follow 
(them) until they and their people have definitely adopted the coloring of royal 
authority and superiority. (The coloring,) then, continues to exist. Through it, the 
identity and persistence of the dynasty are assured. 

Now, the person who gains superiority (over the ruler) may have a share in 
the group feeling that belongs to the tribe which has obtained royal authority or to 
its clients and followers. However, his group feeling still is comprised by, and 
subordinate to, the group feeling of the family of the ruler. He cannot (take on) the 
coloring of royal authority. Thus, in gaining control, he does not plan to appropriate 
royal authority for himself openly, but only to appropriate its fruits, that is, the 

exercise of administrative, executive, and all other power.— He gives the people of 
the dynasty the impression that he merely acts for the ruler and executes the latter's 
decisions from behind the curtain. He carefully refrains from using the attributes, 
emblems, or titles of royal authority. He avoids throwing any suspicion upon himself 
in this respect, even though he exercises full control. For, in his exercise of full 
control, he takes cover behind the curtain the ruler and his ancestors had set up to 
protect themselves from their own tribe when the dynasty came into being. He 
disguises his exercise of control under the form of acting as the ruler's 
representative. 

Should he undertake to adopt (any of the royal prerogatives), the people who 

represent the group feeling and tribe of the ruler would resent it — and contrive to 
appropriate (the royal prerogatives) for themselves, to his exclusion. He has no 
definite coloring to (make him appear suited for the royal prerogatives) or cause 
others to submit to him and obey him. (Any attempt by him to appropriate the royal 
prerogatives) would, thus, instantly precipitate his doom. 

Something of the sort happened to 'Abd-ar-Rahman b. al-Manslir b. Abi 

'Amir.l^ He aspired to share the title of caliph with Hisham and his house. He was 
not satisfied with control of the executive power and the resulting forms (of honor) 
with which his father and brother had been satisfied. He sought to be entrusted with 
the caliphate by his caliph, Hisham. The Marwanids (Umayyads) and the other 
Qurashites were furious to see him do that. They took the oath of allegiance to a 
cousin of the caliph Hisham, Muhammad (b. Hisham) b. 'Abd-al-Jabbir b. an-Nasir, 
and revolted against (the party of Ibn Abi 'Amir). That caused the ruin of the 
'Amirid dynasty and the destruction of their caliph (Hisham) al-Mu'ayyad. In (al- 
Mu'ayyad's) place, someone else from among the leaders of the dynasty was chosen, 
(and his house remained in power) down to the end of the dynasty and the 
dissolution of their pattern of royal authority. 

God is the best heir. 



21. The true character and different kinds of royal authority. 


Royal authority is an institution that is natural to mankind. We have 

explained before that human beings cannot live and exist except through social 
organization and cooperation for the purpose of obtaining their food and (other) 
necessities of life. When they have organized, necessity requires that they deal with 
each other and (thus) satisfy (their) needs. Each one will stretch out his hand for 

whatever he needs and (try simply to) take it,— since injustice and aggressiveness 
are in the animal nature. The others, in turn, will try to prevent him from taking it, 

motivated by wrathfulness 122 anc j spite and the strong human reaction when (one's 
own property is menaced). This causes dissension. (Dissension) leads to hostilities, 
and hostilities lead to trouble and bloodshed and loss of life, which (in turn) lead to 
the destruction of the (human) species. Now, (the human species) is one of the 
things the Creator has especially (told us) too preserve. 

People, thus, cannot persist in a state of anarchy and without a ruler who 
keeps them apart. Therefore, they need a person to restrain them. He is their ruler. 

As is required by human nature, he must be a forceful ruler, one who (actually) 
exercises authority. In this connection, group feeling is absolutely necessary, for as 

we have stated before, 12Q aggressive and defensive enterprises can succeed only 
with the help of group feeling. As one can see, royal authority of this kind is a noble 
institution, toward which all claims are directed, and (one) that needs to be 
defended. Nothing of the sort can materialize except with the help of group feelings, 
as has been mentioned before. 

Group feelings differ. Each group feeling exercises its own authority and 
superiority over the people and family adhering to it. Not every group feeling has 
royal authority. Royal authority, in reality, belongs only to those who dominate 

subjects, collect taxes, send out (military) expeditions,— protect the frontier 
regions, and have no one over them who is stronger than they. This is generally 
accepted as the real meaning of royal authority. 

There are people whose group feeling falls short of accomplishing (one or 
another of these things which constitute) part of (real royal authority), such as 
protecting the frontier regions, or collecting taxes, or sending out (military) 
expeditions. Such royal authority is defective and not royal authority in the real 
meaning of the term. This was the case with many of the Berber rulers of the 
Aghlabid dynasty in al-Qayrawan, and with the non- Arab (Persian) rulers at the 
beginning of the 'Abbasid dynasty. 

Then, there are people whose group feeling is not strong enough to gain 
control over all the other group feelings or to stop everyone, so that there exists an 
authority superior to theirs. Their royal authority is also defective, and not royal 
authority in the real meaning of the term. It is exercised, for instance, by provincial 
amirs and regional chieftains who are all under one dynasty. This situation is often 
found in farflung dynasties. I mean that there are rulers of provincial and remote 
regions who rule their own people but also obey the central power of the dynasty. 
Such was the relationship of the Sinhajah with the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimids); of the 
Zanatah with the (Spanish) Umayyads at one time and with the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimids) 


at another; of the non- Arab (Persian) rulers with the 'Abbasids; of the Berber amirs 
and rulers with the European Christians (in the Maghrib) prior to Islam; and of the 
rulers of the (old) Persian successor states with Alexander and his Greeks. 

There are many such (examples), as, upon examination, will be found to be 
so. God "exercises forceful domination over His servants." — 


22. Exaggerated harshness is harmful to royal authority 
and in most cases causes its destruction. 


It — should be known that the interest subjects have in their ruler is not 
interest in his person and body, for example, in his good figure, handsome face, 
large frame, wide knowledge, good handwriting, or acute mind. Their interest in him 
lies in his relation to them. Royal and governmental authority is something relative, 
a relationship between two things (ruler and subjects). Government becomes a 
reality when (there is a ruler who) rules over subjects and handles their affairs. A 
ruler is he who has subjects ( ra'aya ), and subjects are persons who have a ruler. The 
quality accruing to the ruler from the fact of his correlative relation with his subjects 

is called "rulership" ( malakah ).— That is, he rules them, and if such rulership and 
its concomitants are of good quality, the purpose of government is most perfectly 
achieved. If such rulership is good and beneficial, it will serve the interests of the 
subjects. If it is bad and unfair, it will be harmful to them and cause their 
destruction. 

Good rulership is equivalent to mildness. If the ruler uses force and is ready 
to mete out punishment and eager to expose the faults of people and to count their 
sins, (his subjects) become fearful and depressed and seek to protect themselves 
against him through lies, ruses, and deceit. This becomes a character trait of theirs. 
Their mind and character become corrupted. They often abandon (the ruler) on the 
battlefield and (fail to support his) defensive enterprises. The decay of (sincere) 
intentions causes the decay of (military) protection. The subjects often conspire to 
kill the ruler. Thus, the dynasty decays, and the fence (that protects it) lies in ruins. 

If the ruler continues to keep a forceful grip on his subjects, group feeling will be 

destroyed, for reasons stated at the beginning.— The fence (which protects the 
dynasty) is torn down, for the dynasty has become incapable of (military) protection. 
(On the other hand,) if the ruler is mild and overlooks the bad sides of his subjects, 
they will trust him and take refuge with him. They (then) love him heartily and are 
willing to die for him in battle against his enemies. Everything is then in order in the 
state. 

The concomitants of good rulership are being kind to one's (subjects) and 
defending them. The true meaning of royal authority is realized when the ruler 
defends his subjects. To be kind and beneficent toward them is part of being mild to 
them and showing an interest in how they are living. These things are important for 
the ruler in gaining the love of his subjects. 

It should be known that an alert and very shrewd person rarely has the habit 
of mildness. Mildness is usually found in careless and unconcerned persons. The 
least (of the many drawbacks) of alertness (in a ruler) is that he imposes tasks upon 
his subjects that are beyond their ability, because he is aware of things they do not 
perceive and, through his genius, foresees the outcome of things at the start. (The 
ruler's excessive demands) may lead to his subjects' ruin. Muhammad said: "Follow 

the pace of the weakest among you," 125a 

The Lawgiver (Muhammad), therefore, made it a condition that the ruler not 
be too shrewd. The source for (this statement) is a story about Ziyad b. Abi 

196 


Sufyan. When 'Umar deposed him (as governor) of the 'Iraq, he asked 'Umar 
why he had been deposed, whether it was because of his inability or his treachery. 
'Umar replied that he had deposed him for neither of those reasons but because he 
disliked having people become the victim of his superior intelligence. This is (the 
source for the statement) that the ruler should not be too shrewd and clever, as were 
Ziyad b. Abu Sufyan and 'Amr b. al-'As. For such (qualities) are accompanied by 
tyrannical and bad rulership and by a tendency to make the people do things that it is 

not in their nature to do. This will be mentioned at the end of the book.J^. God [ s 
the best ruler. 

The conclusion is that it is a drawback in a political leader to be (too) clever 
and shrewd. Cleverness and shrewdness imply that a person thinks too, much, just 
as stupidity implies that he is too rigid. In the case of all human qualities, the 
extremes are reprehensible, and the middle road is praiseworthy. This is, for 
instance, the case with generosity in relation to waste and stinginess, or with bravery 

in relation to foolhardiness and cowardice, 122 And so it is with all the other human 
qualities. For this reason, the very clever person is said to have the qualities of 
devils. He is called a "satan" or, "a would-be satan," and the like. 

"God creates whatever He wishes." — 


23. The meaning of caliphate and imamate. 


(As 222 explained,) the real meaning of royal authority is that it is a form of 
organization necessary to mankind. (Royal authority) requires superiority and force, 

which express the wrathfulness 221 and animality (of human nature). The decisions 
of the ruler will therefore, as a rule, deviate from what is right. They will be ruinous 
to the worldly affairs of the people under his control, since, as a rule, he forces them 
to execute his intentions and desires, which it may be beyond their ability (to do). 
This situation will differ according to the difference of intentions to be found in 
different generations. (But) it is for this reason difficult to be obedient to (the ruler). 

Disobedience 222 ma kes itself noticeable and leads to trouble and bloodshed. 

Therefore, it is necessary to have reference to ordained political norms, 
which are accepted by the mass and to whose laws it submits. The Persians and 
other nations had such norms. The dynasty that does not have a policy based on such 
(norms), cannot fully succeed in establishing the supremacy of its rule. "This is how 

God proceeded with those who were before." 223 

If these norms are ordained by the intelligent and leading personalities and 
(best) minds of the dynasty, the result will be a political (institution) on an 
intellectual (rational) basis. If they are ordained by God through a lawgiver who 
establishes them as (religious) laws, the result will be a political (institution) on a 
religious basis, which will be useful for life in both this and the other world. 

This is because the purpose of human beings is not only their worldly 
welfare. This entire world is trifling and futile. It ends in death and annihilation. 

God says: "Do you think that we created you triflingly?" — The purpose (of human 
beings) is their religion, which leads them to happiness in the other world, "the path 

of God to whom belongs that which is in heaven and that which is on earth." — 
Therefore, religious laws have as their purpose to cause (human beings) to follow 
such a course in all their dealings with God and their fellow men. This (situation) 
also applies to royal authority, which is natural in human social organization. (The 
religious laws) guide it along the path of religion, so that everything will be under 
the supervision of the religious law. Anything (done by royal authority) that is 
dictated by force, superiority, or the free play of the power of wrathfulness, is 
tyranny and injustice and considered reprehensible by (the religious law), as it is 
also considered reprehensible by the requirements of political wisdom. Likewise, 
anything (done by royal authority) that is dictated (merely) by considerations of 

policy or political decisions without supervision of the religious law 222 is also 
reprehensible, because it is vision lacking the divine light. "He for whom God makes 

no light has no light whatever." 2112 The Lawgiver (Muhammad) knows better than 
the mass itself what is good for them so far as the affairs of the other world, which 
are concealed from the mass itself, are concerned. At the Resurrection, the actions of 
human beings, whether they had to do with royal authority or anything else, will all 
come back to them. Muhammad said: "It is your own actions that are brought back 
to you." 

Political laws consider only worldly interests. "They know the outward life 

208 


of this world." (On the other hand,) the intention the Lawgiver has concerning 

mankind is their welfare in the other world.— Therefore, it is necessary, as required 
by the religious law, to cause the mass to act in accordance with the religious laws in 
all their affairs touching both this world and the other world. The authority to do so 
was possessed by the representatives of the religious law, the prophets. (Later on, it 
was possessed) by those who took their place, the caliphs. 

This makes it clear what the caliphate means. (To exercise) natural royal 
authority means to cause the masses to act as required by purpose and desire. (To 
exercise) political (royal authority) means to cause the masses to act as required by 
intellectual (rational) insight into the means of furthering their worldly interests and 
avoiding anything that is harmful (in that respect). (And to exercise) the caliphate 
means to cause the masses to act as required by religious insight into their interests 
in the other world as well as in this world. (The worldly interests) have bearing upon 
(the interests in the other world), since according to the Lawgiver (Muhammad), all 
worldly conditions are to be considered in their relation to their value for the other 
world. Thus, (the caliphate) in reality substitutes for the Lawgiver (Muhammad), in 
as much as it serves, like him, to protect the religion and to exercise (political) 
leadership of the world. 

This should be understood and be kept in mind in the following discussion. 
God is wise and knowing. 


24. The differences of Muslim opinion concerning the 

Tin 

laws and conditions governing the caliphate 


We have (just) explained the real meaning of the institution of (the 
caliphate). It substitutes for the Lawgiver (Muhammad) in as much as it serves, like 
him, to preserve the religion and to exercise (political) leadership of the world. (The 
institution) is called "the caliphate" or "the imamate." The person in charge of it is 
called "the caliph" or "the imam." 

In later times, he has (also) been called "the sultan," when there were 
numerous (claimants to the position) or when, in view of the distances (separating 
the different regions) and in disregard of the conditions governing the institution, 
people were forced to render the oath of allegiance to anybody who seized power. 

The name "imam" is derived from the comparison (of the caliph) with the 
leader (imam) of prayer, since (the caliph) is followed and taken as a model like the 
prayer leader. Therefore (the caliphate) is called the "great imamate." 

The name "caliph" ( khalifah ) is given to the caliph, because he "represents" 
(kh-l f) the Prophet in Islam. One uses "caliph" alone, or "caliph of the Messenger 
of God." There is a difference of opinion concerning the use of "caliph of God." 
Some consider (this expression) permissible as derived from the general "caliphate" 
(representation of God) of all the descendants of Adam, implied in the verse of the 
Qur'an, "I am making on earth a caliph," and the verse, "He made you caliphs on 

earth." 212 gut, [ n general, it is not considered permissible to use (the expression 
"caliph of God"), since the verse quoted has no reference to it (in connection with 
the caliphate in the specific sense of the term). Abu Bakr forbade the use (of the 
expression "caliph of God") when he was thus addressed. He said, "I am not the 
caliph of God, but the caliph (representative, successor) of the Messenger of God." 
Furthermore, one can have a "caliph" (representative, successor) of someone who is 
absent, but not of someone who is present (as God always is). 

The position of imam is a necessary one. The consensus of the men around 
Muhammad and the men of the second generation shows that (the imamate) is 
necessary according to the religious law. At the death of the Prophet, the men 
around him proceeded to render the oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr and to entrust 
him with the supervision of their affairs. And so it was at all subsequent periods. In 
no period were the people left in a state of anarchy. This was so by general 
consensus, which proves that the position of imam is a necessary one. 

Some people have expressed the opinion that the necessity of the imamate is 
indicated by the intellect (rational reasons), and that the consensus which happens to 
exist merely confirms the authority of the intellect in this respect. As they say, what 
makes (the position of imam) intellectually (rationally) necessary is the need of 
human beings for social organization and the impossibility of their living and 
existing by themselves. One of the necessary consequences of social organization is 
disagreement, because of the pressure of cross-purposes. As long as there is no ruler 
who exercises a restraining influence, this (disagreement) leads to trouble which, in 
turn, may lead to the destruction and uprooting of mankind. Now, the preservation 
of the (human) species is one of the necessary intentions of the religious law. 


This very idea is the one the philosophers had in mind when they considered 

prophecy as something (intellectually) necessary for mankind. We — have already 
shown the incorrectness of (their argumentation). One of its premises is that the 
restraining influence comes into being only through a religious law from God, to 
which the mass submits as a matter of belief and religious creed. This premise is not 
acceptable. The restraining influence comes into being as the result of the impetus of 
royal authority and the forcefulness of the mighty, even if there is no religious law. 

This was the case among the Magians — and other nations who had no scriptures 
and had not been reached by a prophetic mission. 

Or, we might say (against the alleged rational necessity of the caliphate): In 
order to remove disagreement, it is sufficient that every individual should know that 
injustice is forbidden him by the authority of the intellect. Then, their claim that the 
removal of disagreement takes place only through the existence of the religious law 
in one case, and the position of the imam in another case, is not correct. 
(Disagreement) may (be removed) as well through the existence of powerful leaders, 
or through the people refraining from disagreement and mutual injustice, as through 
the position of the imam. Thus, the intellectual proof based upon that premise does 
not stand up. This shows that the necessity of (the position of imam) is indicated by 
the religious law, that is, by general consensus, as we have stated before. 

Some people have taken the exceptional position of stating that the position 
of imam is not necessary at all, neither according to the intellect nor according to 
the religious law. People who have held that opinion include the Mu'tazilah al- 

Asamm 215 and certain Kharijites, among others. They think that it is necessary 
only to observe the religious laws. When Muslims agree upon (the practice of) 
justice and observance of the divine laws, no imam is needed, and the position of 
imam is not necessary. Those (who so argue) are refuted by the general consensus. 
The reason why they adopted such an opinion was that they (attempted to) escape 
the royal authority and its overbearing, domineering, and worldly ways. They had 
seen that the religious law was full of censure and blame for such things and for the 
people who practiced them, and that it encouraged the desire to abolish them. 

It should be known that the religious law does not censure royal authority as 
such and does not forbid its exercise. It merely censures the evils resulting from it, 
such as tyranny, injustice, and pleasure-seeking. Here, no doubt, we have forbidden 
evils. They are the concomitants of royal authority. (On the other hand,) the religious 
law praises justice, fairness, the fulfillment of religious duties, and the defense of the 
religion. It states that these things will of necessity find their reward (in the other 
world). Now, all these things are concomitants of royal authority, too. Thus, censure 
attaches to royal authority only on account of some of its qualities and conditions, 
not others. (The religious law) does not censure royal authority as such, nor does it 
seek to suppress it entirely. It also censures concupiscence and wrathfulness — in 
responsible persons, but it does not want to see either of these qualities relinquished 
altogether, because necessity calls for their existence. It merely wants to see that 

' n-l r 7 

proper use is made of them. 41 ^ David and Solomon possessed royal authority such 
as no one else ever possessed, yet they were divine prophets and belonged, in God's 

eyes, among the noblest human beings (that ever existed). 215 

Furthermore, we say to them: The (attempt to) dispense with royal authority 
by (assuming) that the institution (of the imamate) is not necessary, does not help 
you at all. You agree that observance of the religious laws is a necessary thing. Now, 
that is achieved only through group feeling and power, and group feeling, by its very 
nature, requires (the existence of) royal authority. Thus, there will be royal authority, 
even if no imam is set up. Now, that is just what you (wanted to) dispense with. 


If it has been established that the institution (of the imamate) is necessary by 
general consensus, (it must be added that the institution of the imamate) is a 

community duty — and is left to the discretion of all competent Muslims.— d It is 
their obligation to see to it that (the imamate) is set up, and everybody has to obey 
(the imam) in accordance with the verse of the Qur'an, "Obey God, and obey the 

Messenger and the people in authority among you." — 

It 222 is not possible to appoint two men to the position (of imam) at the 
same time. Religious scholars generally are of this opinion, on the basis of certain 
traditions. Those traditions are found in the book, "On Leadership ( imarah )," in the 

Sahih by Muslim.223 They expressly indicate that this is so. 

Others hold that (the prohibition against two imams) applies only to two 
imams in one locality, or where they would be close to each other. When there are 
great distances and the imam is unable to control the farther region, it is permissible 
to set up another imam there to take care of public interests. 

Among the famous authorities who are reported to have held this opinion is 
Professor Abu Ishaq al-Isfariyini,224 the leading speculative theologian. The Imam 

al-Haramayn — also showed himself inclined toward it in his Kitab al-Irshad. The 
opinions of the Spaniards and Maghribis often make it evident that they, too, were 
inclined toward it. The numerous religious scholars in Spain rendered the oath of 
allegiance to the Umayyads and gave the Umayyad 'Abd-ar-Rahman anNasir and 
his descendants the title of Commander of the Faithful. This title is characteristic of 

the caliphate, as we shall mention Somewhat later, the Almohads in the Maghrib 
did the same thing. 

Some scholars have rejected (the possibility of more than one imam) with 
reference to the general consensus. This is no evident (proof), for if there existed a 
general consensus on the point, neither Professor Abfi Ishaq nor the Imam al- 
Haramayn would have opposed it. They knew better (than any one else) what the 

consensus meant. Indeed, the imam al-Mazari 22Z anc [ an-Nawawi 228 h ave b een 

refuted 222 on t h e basis of the afore-mentioned evident sense of the traditions (in 
Muslim's Sahih). 

Certain more recent scholars have occasionally argued in favor of (a single 
imam) with the argument of mutual antagonism 230 referred to by the divine 
revelation in the verse, "If there were other gods except God in the two (heaven and 

earth), they (heaven and earth) would have been destroyed." 231 However, nothing 
of relevance in this connection can be deduced from the verse, because its (force as 
an) argument is in the field of the intellect. God called our attention to (the verse), 
so that we might have a rational proof of the oneness of God in which we are 
enjoined to believe, and so that, as a result, (this dogma) might be more firmly 
grounded. (On the other hand,) what we want to find out in connection with the 
imamate is why it is forbidden to set up two imams (at the same time), and that is 
something that belongs to the field of religious law and religious obligations (rather 
than to the field of the intellect). Thus, the (verse of the Qur'an quoted) cannot be 
used for any deduction (in this connection), unless we establish it as belonging to the 
field of the religious law by the addition of another premise, namely, that (quite 
generally) from an increase in number there results corruption, and we are to keep 
away from anything that may lead to corruption. Then, (the verse) can be used for 
deductions in the field of religious law. And God knows better. 

The conditions governing the institution of (the imamate) are four: (1) 
knowledge, (2) probity, (3) competence, and (4) freedom of the senses and limbs 


from any defect that might affect judgment and action. There is a difference of 
opinion concerning a fifth condition, that is, (5) Qurashite descent. 

(1) (The necessity of) knowledge as a condition is obvious. The imam can 
execute the divine laws only if he knows them. Those he does not know, he cannot 
properly present. (His) knowledge is satisfactory only if he is able to make 
independent decisions. Blind acceptance of tradition is a shortcoming, and the 
imamate requires perfection in (all) qualities and conditions. 

(2) Probity (' adalah ) 232 j s required because (the imamate) is a religious 
institution and supervises all the other institutions that require (probity). Thus, it is 
all the more necessary that (probity) be a condition required of (the imamate). There 
is no difference of opinion as to the fact that the (imam's) probity is nullified by the 
actual commission of forbidden acts and the like. But there is a difference of opinion 
on the question of whether it is nullified by innovations in dogma (made or adopted 
by the imam). 

(3) Competence means that (the imam) is willing to carry out the 
punishments fixed by law and to go to war. He must understand (warfare) and be 
able to assume responsibility for getting the people to go (to war). He also must 
know about group feeling and the fine points (of diplomacy). He must be strong 
enough to take care of political duties. All of which is to enable him to fulfill his 
functions of protecting the religion, leading in the holy war against the enemy, 
maintaining the (religious) laws,— and administering the (public) interests. 

(4) Freedom of the senses and limbs from defects or incapacitations such as 
insanity, blindness, muteness, or deafness, and from any loss of limbs affecting (the 
imam's) ability to act, such as missing hands, feet, or testicles, is a condition of the 
imamate, because all such defects affect the (imam's) full ability to act and to fulfill 
his duties. Even in the case of a defect that merely disfigures the appearance, as, for 
instance, loss of one limb, the condition of freedom from defects (remains in force 
as a condition in the sense that it) aims at perfection (in the imam). 

Lack of freedom of action is connected with loss of limbs. Such a lack may 
be of two kinds. One is forced (inaction) and complete inability to act through 
imprisonment or the like. (Absence of any restriction upon freedom of action) is as 
necessary a condition (of the imamate) as freedom from bodily defects. The other 
kind is in a different category. (This lack of freedom of action implies that) some of 
(the imam's) men gain power over him, although no disobedience or disagreement 
may be involved, and keep him in seclusion. Then, the problem is shifted to the 
person who has gained power. If he acts in accordance with Islam and justice and 
praiseworthy policies, it is permissible to acknowledge (the imam). If not, the 
Muslims must look for help. (They must look to) persons who will restrain him and 
eliminate the unhealthy situation created by him, until the caliph's power of action is 
re-established. 

(5) The condition of Qurashite origin is based upon the general consensus on 
this point that obtained in the men around Muhammad on the day of the Saglfah.— 
On that day, the Ansar intended to render the oath of allegiance to Sa'd b. 'Ubadah. 

They said: "One amir from among us, and another from among you." — But the 
Qurashites argued against them with Muhammad's statement, "The imams are from 
among the Quraysh." — They also argued that Muhammad had exhorted them "to 
do good to (those of the Ansar) who do good, and leave unpunished those of them 
who do evil." — Now, (the Qurashites) said, if the leadership were to be given to 
(the Ansar), the latter would not have been recommended (to their care as indicated 
in Muhammad's statement). The Ansar bowed to these arguments and retracted their 


statement (just quoted), "One amir from among us, and another from among you." 
They gave up their intention to render the oath of allegiance to Sa'd. It is also well 
established by sound tradition that "this thing (the Muslim state) will always remain 

with this Qurashite tribe." — There are many other similar proofs. 

However, the power of the Quraysh weakened. Their group feeling vanished 
in consequence of the life of luxury and prosperity they led, and in consequence of 
the fact that the dynasty expended them all over the earth. (The Qurashites) thus 
became too weak to fulfill the duties of the caliphate. The non- Arabs gained 
superiority over them, and the executive power fell into their hands. This caused 
much confusion among thorough scholars (with regard to Qurashite origin as a 
condition of the caliphate). They eventually went so far as to deny that Qurashite 
descent was a condition (of the imamate). They based themselves upon the evident 
sense (of certain statements), such as Muhammad's statement, "Listen and obey, 
even should an Abyssinian slave, with (a head as black as) a raisin, be your 
governor." — This (statement), however, is no valid proof in connection with (the 
problem in question). It is just a hypothetical parable which, in an exaggerated 
form, is meant to stress the duty of obedience. 

There — is also 'Umar's statement, "If Salim, the client of Abu Hudhayfah, 
were alive, I would appoint him, "-or: "... I would not have had any objection against 
him." — This statement also has nothing to do (with the problem in question). It is 
known that the opinion of one of the men around Muhammad (such as 'Umar, in this 
particular case) does not constitute a proof. Furthermore, people's clients belong to 
them.— Salim's group feeling in his capacity as client was that of the Qurashites. 
And it is (group feeling) that is important when specific descent is made a condition 
(of the imamate). 'Umar had a high opinion of the caliphate. He thought, as he 
looked at it, that the conditions governing it were (all but) disregarded. Thus, he 
turned to Salim, because, in his opinion, the latter abundantly fulfilled the conditions 
governing the caliphate, including his client relationship which provided for group 
feeling, as we shall mention.— Only, a pure (Qurashite) descent was not there. 
(’Umar) considered it unnecessary, because the importance of descent lies solely in 
group feeling, and (group feeling) may result from a client relationship (such as that 
of Salim, as well as from common descent). The reason for 'Umar's (statement) was 
his desire to look after (the best interests of) the Muslims and to entrust their 
government to a man beyond reproach who (would not commit acts for which he, 
’Umar,) would be held responsible. 

Among those who deny that Qurashite descent is a condition (of the 
imamate) is Judge Abu Bakr al-Bagillani.— The Qurashite group feeling had come 
to disappear and dissolve (in his day), and non- Arab rulers controlled the caliphs. 
Therefore, when he saw what the condition of the caliphs was in his day, he 
dropped the condition of Qurashite origin (for the imamate), even though it meant 
agreeing with the Kharijites. 

Scholars in general, however, retain Qurashite descent as a condition (of the 
imamate). (They maintain that) the imamate rightly belongs to a Qurashite, even if 
he is too weak to handle the affairs of the Muslims. Against them is the fact that this 
involves dropping the condition of competence, which requires that (the imam must) 
have the power to discharge his duties. If (his) strength has gone with the 
disappearance of group feeling, (his) competence, too, is gone. And if the condition 
of competence be eliminated, that will reflect further upon knowledge and religion. 
(In this case, then, all) the conditions governing the institution (of the imamate) 
would no longer be considered, and this would be contrary to the general consensus. 

We shall now discuss the wisdom of making descent a condition of the 


imamate, so that the correct facts underlying all those opinions will be recognized. 
We say: 

All religious laws must have (specific) purposes and significant meanings of 
their own, on account of which they were made. If we, now, investigate the wisdom 
of Qurashite descent as a condition (of the imamate) and the purpose which the 
Lawgiver (Muhammad) had in mind, (we shall find that) in this connection he did 
not only think of the blessing that lies in direct relationship with the Prophet, as is 
generally (assumed). Such direct relationship exists (in the case of Qurashite 
descent), and it is a blessing. However, it is known that the religious law has not as 
its purpose to provide blessings. Therefore, if (a specific) descent be made a 
condition (of the imamate), there must be a (public) interest which was the purpose 
behind making it into law. If we probe into the matter and analyze it, we find that the 
(public) interest is nothing else but regard for group feeling. (Group feeling) gives 
protection and helps people to press their claims. The existence of (group feeling) 
frees the incumbent in the position (of imam) from opposition and division. The 
Muslim community accepts him and his family, and he can establish friendly terms 
with them. 

Now, the Quraysh were the outstanding, original, and superior leaders of the 
Mudar. Their number, their group feeling, and their nobility gave them power over 
all the other Mudar. All other Arabs acknowledged that fact and bowed to their 
superiority. Had the rule been entrusted to anybody else, it may be expected that 
their opposition and refusal to submit would have broken the whole thing up. No 
other Mudar tribe would have been able to sway them from their attitude of 
opposition and to carry them along against their will. The community would have 
been broken up. The whole thing would have been torn by dissension. The Lawgiver 
(Muhammad) warned against that. He showed himself desirous to have them agree 
and to remove dissension and confusion from among them, for the sake of 
establishing close contact and group feeling and improved protection. (No 
dissension or confusion but rather) the opposite (could be expected to be the case), 
were the Quraysh to be in power. They were able, through superior force, to drive 
people into doing what was expected of them. There was no fear that anybody would 
oppose them. There was no fear of division. The Quraysh were able to assume the 
responsibility of doing away with (division) and of preventing people from (splitting 
up). Therefore, Qurashite descent was made a condition of the institution of (the 
imamate). The Quraysh represented the strongest (available) group feeling. 
(Qurashite descent of the imam,) it was thus (hoped), would be more effective (than 
anything else) in organizing the Muslim community and bringing harmony into it. 
When Qurashite affairs were well organized, all Mudar affairs were likewise well 
organized. Thus, all the other Arabs obeyed them. Nations other than the Arabs 
submitted to the laws of the Muslim community. Muslim armies entered the most 
remote countries. That happened in the days of the conquests. It remained that way 
later on in the (Umayyad and 'Abbasid) dynasties, until the power of the caliphate 
dissolved and the Arab group feeling vanished. The great number of the Quraysh 
and their superiority over the Mudar subtribes is known to all diligent students of, 
and experts in, Arab history, biography, and relevant conditions. Ibn Ishaq 

mentioned this in the Kitab as-siyar, and (so did) other (authors). 245 

If it is established that Qurashite (descent) as a condition (of the imamate) 
was intended to remove dissension with the help of (Qurashite) group feeling and 
superiority, and if we know that the Lawgiver (Muhammad) does not make special 
laws for any one generation, period, or nation, we also know that (Qurashite 
descent) falls under (the heading of) competence. Thus, we have linked it up with 
(the condition of competence) and have established the overall purpose of (the 


condition of) Qurashite (descent), which is the existence of group feeling. Therefore, 
we consider it a (necessary) condition for the person in charge of the affairs of the 
Muslims that he belong to people who possess a strong group feeling, superior to 
that of their contemporaries, so that they can force the others to follow them and the 
whole thing can be united for effective protection. (Such group feeling as a rule) 
does not comprise all areas and regions. Qurashite (group feeling), however, was all- 
comprehensive, since the mission of Islam, which the Quraysh represented, was all- 
comprehensive, and the group feeling of the Arabs was adequate to that mission. 
Therefore, (the Arabs) overpowered all the other nations. At the present time, 
however, each region has people of its own who represent the superior group feeling 
(there). 

When one considers what God meant the caliphate to be, nothing more needs 
(to be said) about it. (God) made the caliph his substitute to handle the affairs of His 
servants. He is to make them do the things that are good for them and not do those 
that are harmful. He has been directly told so. A person who lacks the power to do a 

thing is never told directly to do it. The religious leader, Ibn al-Khatib,^^ sa id that 
most religious laws apply to women as they do to men. However, women are not 
directly told (to follow the religious laws) by express reference to them in the text, 
but, in (Ibn al-Khatib's) opinion, they are included only by way of analogical 
reasoning. That is because women have no power whatever. Men control their 
(actions), except in as far as the duties of divine worship are concerned, where 
everyone controls his own (actions). Therefore, women are directly told (to fulfill 
the duties of divine worship) by express reference to them in the text, and not 
(merely) by way of analogical reasoning. 

Furthermore, (the world of) existence attests to (the necessity of group 
feeling for the caliphate). Only he who has gained superiority over a nation or a race 
is able to handle its affairs. The religious law would hardly ever make a requirement 
in contradiction to the requirements of existence. 

And God, He is exalted, knows better. 


25. Shi'ah tenets concerning the question of the imamate. 


It should be known that, linguistically, Shi'ah means "companions and 
followers." In the customary usage of old and modern jurists and speculative 
theologians, the word is used for the followers and descendants of 'All. The tenet on 
which they all agree is that the imamate is not a general (public) interest to be 
delegated to the Muslim nation for consideration and appointment of a person to fill 

it. (To the Shi'ah,) it is a pillar and fundamental article of Islam. No prophet 24Z [ s 
permitted to neglect it or to delegate (the appointment of an imam) to the Muslim 
nation. It is incumbent upon him to appoint an imam for the (Muslims). The imam 

cannot commit =4^ sins either great or small. 'Ali is the one whom Muhammad 
appointed. The (Shi'ah) transmit texts (of traditions) in support of (this belief), which 
they interpret so as to suit their tenets. The authorities on the Sunnah and the 
transmitters of the religious law do not know these texts. Most of them are 
supposititious, or some of their transmitters are suspect, or their (true) interpretation 
is very different from the wicked interpretation that (the Shi'ah) give to them. 

According to (the Shi'ah), these texts fall into the two categories of express 
and implied statements. An express statement, for instance, is the following 

statement (by Muhammad): "Ali is master of those whose master I am. As they 
say, such a position of master (mentioned in the tradition) applies only to 'Ali. 

'Umar thus said to him: "You have become the master of all believers, men and 
women." 

Another tradition of this sort is the following statement of (Muhammad): 
"Your best judge is 'Ali." Imamate means exclusively the activity of judging in 
accordance with the divine laws. (The activity of) judging and being a judge is (what 
is) meant by "the people in authority" whom God requires us to obey in the verse of 
the Qur'an: "Obey God, and obey the Messenger and the people in authority among 

you." Therefore, 'All and no other was arbitrator in the question of the imamate 
on the day of the Saqifah.^^ 

Another statement of this sort is the following statement by (Muhammad): 
"He who renders the oath of allegiance to me upon his life is my legatee and the 
man who will be in charge of this authority here after me. "Only 'Ali rendered the 
oath of allegiance to him (in this manner). 

An implied (argument), according to the Shi'ah, is the fact that the Prophet 
sent 'All to recite the surat al-Bara'ah — at the festival (in Mecca) when it had 
(just) been revealed. He first sent Abu Bakr with it. Then it was revealed to 
Muhammad that "a man from you, "-or: ". . . from your people" -"should transmit it." 
Therefore, he sent 'Ali to transmit it. As they say, this proves that 'Ali was preferred 
(by Muhammad). Furthermore, it is not known that Muhammad ever preferred 

anyone to 'All, while he preferred Usamah b. Zayd ^54 anc ] 'Amr b. al-' As to 
both Abu Bakr and 'Umar during two different raids. According to (the Shi'ah), all 
these things prove that 'Ali and no one else was appointed (by Muhammad) to the 
caliphate. However, some of the statements quoted are little known, and others 
require an interpretation very different from that which (the Shi'ah) give. 


Some (Shi'ah) hold the opinion that these texts prove both the personal 
appointment of 'All and the fact that the imamate is transmitted from him to his 
successors. They are the Imamiyah. They renounce the two shaykhs (Abu Bakr and 
'Umar), because they did not give precedence to 'Ali and did not render the oath of 
allegiance to him, as required by the texts quoted. The Imamiyah do not take the 
imamates (of Abu Bakr and ’Umar) seriously. But we do not want to bother with 
transmitting the slanderous things said about (Abfi Bakr and 'Umar) by (Imamiyah) 
extremists. They are objectionable in our opinion and (should be) in theirs. 

Other (Shi'ah) say that these proofs require the appointment of 'All not in 
person but as far as (his) qualities are concerned. They say that people commit an 
error when they do not give the qualities their proper place. They are the Zaydiyah. 
They do not renounce the two shaykhs (Abu Bakr and 'Umar). They do take their 
imamates seriously, but they say that 'All was superior to them. They permit an 
inferior person to be the imam, even though a superior person may be alive (at the 

same time).— 

The Shi'ah differ in opinion concerning the succession to the caliphate 
after 'Ali. Some have it passed on among the descendants of Fatimah in succession, 
through testamentary determination (nass). We shall mention that later on. They 
(who believe this) are called the Imamiyah, with reference to their statement that 
knowledge of the imam and the fact of his being appointed are an article of the 
faith. That is their fundamental tenet. 

Others consider the descendants of Fatimah the (proper) successors to the 
imamate, but through selection (of an imam) from among the Shi'ah. The conditions 
governing (selection of) that imam are that he have knowledge, be ascetic, generous, 
and brave, and that he go out to make propaganda for his imamate. They (who 
believe this) are the Zaydiyah, so named after the founder of the sect, Zayd b. 'Ali b. 
al-Husayn, the grandson of Muhammad. He had a dispute with his brother 
Muhammad al-Bagir concerning the condition that the imam has to come out 
openly. Al-Bagir charged him with implying that, in the way Zayd looked at it, their 
father Zayn-al-'abidin would not be an imam, because he had not come out openly 
and had made no preparations to do so. He also accused him of holding Mu'tazilah 
tenets which he had learned from Wasil b. 'Ata. When the Imimiyah discussed the 
question of the imamates of the two shaykhs (Abu Bakr and ’Umar) with Zayd, and 
noticed that he admitted their imamates and did not renounce them, they disavowed 
him and did not make him one of the imams. On account of that fact, they are called 
"Disavowers" ( Rafidah ). 

Some (Shi'ah) consider as successors to the imamate, after 'All-or after his 
two sons, Muhammad's grandsons (al-Hasan and al-Husayn), though they disagree 
in this respect-(al-Hasan's and al-Husayn's) brother, Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyah, 
and then the latter's children. They are the Kaysiniyah, so named after Kaysin, a 

client of (Ali's).— 

There are many differences among these sects which we have omitted here 
for the sake of brevity. 

There are also (Shi'ah) sects that are called "Extremists" ( ghulah ). They 
transgress the bounds of reason and the faith of Islam when they speak of the 
divinity of the imams. They either assume that the imam is a human being with 
divine qualities, or they assume that he is God in human incarnation. This is a 
dogma of incarnation that agrees with the Christian tenets concerning Jesus. 'Ali 
himself had these (Shi'ah) who said such things about him burned to death. 
Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyah was very angry with alMukhtir b. Abi 'Ubayd when he 
learned that al-Mukhtar had suggested something along these lines concerning him. 


He cursed and renounced al-Mukhtir openly. Ja'far as-Sidiq did the same thing with 
people about whom he had learned something of the sort. 

Some (Shi'ah) extremists say that the perfection the imam possesses is 
possessed by nobody else. When he dies, his spirit passes over to another imam, so 
that this perfection may be in him. This is the doctrine of metempsychosis. 

Some extremists stop ( w-q-f) with one of the imams and do not go on. (They 
stop with the imam) whom they consider (to have been) appointed as the (last one). 
They (who.believe this) are the Wiqifiyah. Some of them say that the (last imam) is 
alive and did not die, but is removed from the eyes of the people. As a proof for that 

(theory), they adduce the problem of al-Khidr.-^2 

Something of that sort has been stated with regard to 'Ali himself. He is said 

to be in the clouds. The thunder is his voice, and lightning his whip.=^ Something 
similar has also been stated with regard to Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyah. He is said to 
be in the Mountain of Radwi in the Hijiz. The poet of (the sect holding that belief), 

Kuthayyir,^^! sa y s: 

Indeed, the Qurashite imams, 

The champions of the Truth, are four, all alike: Ali and his three sons, 

They are the grandsons of Muhammad. To them, no 
obscurity is attached. 

One grandson is the grandson of faith and piety. Another was "removed" 
through Kerbela. 

And there is a grandson who will not taste death, until He shall lead an army 
preceded by the flag. 

He is "removed," and has not been seen among them for a time, 

In Radwi, having with him honey and water. 


The extremist Imimiyah, in particular the Twelvers, hold a similar opinion. 
They think that the twelfth of their imams, Muhammad b. al-Hasan al- Askari, to 
whom they give the epithet of al-Mahdi, entered the cellar of their house in al- 
Hillah and was "removed" when he was imprisoned (there) with his mother. He has 

remained there "removed." —He will come forth at the end of time and will fill the 
earth with justice. The Twelver Shi'ah refer in this connection to the tradition found 
in the collection of atTirmidhi regarding the Mahdi.— The Twelver Shi'ah are still 
expecting him to this day. Therefore, they call him "the Expected One." Each night 
after the evening prayer, they bring a mount and stand at the entrance to the cellar 
where (the Mahdi is "removed"). They call his name and ask him to come forth 

openly. They do so until all the stars are out.^i Then, they disperse and postpone 
the matter to the following night. They have continued that custom to this time. 

Some of the Wigifiyah say that the imam who died will return to actual life 
in this world. They adduce as a proof (for the possibility of this assumption) the 
story of the Seven Sleepers, the one about the person who passed by a village, and 
the one about the murdered Israelite who was beaten with the bones of the cow that 
(his people) had been ordered to slaughter, all of them stories included in the 
Qur'in.— They further adduce similar wonders that occurred in the manner of 
(prophetical) miracles. However, it is not right to use those things as proof for 
anything except where they properly apply. 

The (extremist Shi'ah) poet, as-Sayyid al-Himyarh— has the following 
verses on this subject: 


When a man's head has become gray 

And the barbers urge him to dye his hair, His cheerfulness is gone and no 
longer there. 

Arise, O companion, and let us weep for (our lost) youth. 

What is gone of it will not return 
To anyone until the Day of the Return, 

Until the day on which people will return 
To their life in this world before the Reckoning. 

I believe that this is a true belief. 

I do not doubt the Resurrection. 

In fact, God has spoken about people 

Who lived after they had decomposed and become dust. 


The religious authorities (imams) of the Shi'ah have themselves made it 
superfluous for us to bother with the arguments of the extremists, for they do not 
refer to them and thus invalidate the use (the extremists) make of their (arguments). 

The Kaysiniyah consider (Muhammad's) son Abu Hisham successor to the 
imamate after Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyah. They are therefore called the 
Hishimiyah. Then, they split. Some of them transferred the imamate after Abu 
Hisham to his brother 'Ali and then to 'Ali's son al-Hasan. Others thought that when 

Abu Hisham died in the land of ash-Sharih — upon his return from Syria, he 
appointed as his heir Muhammad b. 'Ali b. ' Abdallih b. 'Abbis, who, in turn, 
appointed as his heir his son Ibrihim who is known as the Imam. Ibrihim appointed 
as his heir his brother 'Abdallah b. al-Harithiyah who got the surname of as-Saffah, 
who, in turn, appointed as his heir his brother Abu Ja'far' Abdallah, who got the 
surname of al- Mansur. (The imamate) was then passed on to his children in 
succession through testamentary determination (nass) and appointment ('ahd), right 
down to the last of them. Such is the tenet of the Hashimiyah who support the 
'Abbasid dynasty. Among them were Abu Muslim, Sulayman b. Kathir, Abu 

Salimah al-Khallal, and other members of the (early) 'Abbasid Shi'ah— Their right 
to the power is often supported by the argument that their right goes back to al- 
'Abbas. He was alive at the time of Muhammad's death, and he had the best title to 
become Muhammad's heir because of the group feeling attaching to paternal uncles 
(al-'Abbas being the paternal uncle of Muhammad). 

The Zaydiyah consider the succession to the imamate in the light of their 

view concerning (the institution). (The imam) is chosen by competent 268a Muslims 
and not appointed by testamentary determination (nass). They acknowledge as 
imams, 'Ali, his son al-Hasan, (al-Hasan's) brother alHusayn, (al-Husayn's) son 'Ali 
Zayn-al-'abidin, and (’Ali's) son, the head of the Zaydiyah, Zayd b. 'All. Zayd came 
forth in al-Kufah and made propaganda for the imamate. He was killed and his body 

exhibited in al-Kunasah.— The Zaydiyah acknowledge the imamate of (Zayd's) son 
Yahya, as his (father's) successor. Yahya went to al-Khurasan and was killed in al- 
Juzajan — after he had appointed Muhammad b. 'Abdallah b. Hasan b. al-Hasan, 
(Muhammad's) grandson, as his heir. Muhammad is called "the Pure Soul" (an-Nafs 
as-zakiyah). He came forth in the Hijaz and took the surname of al-Mahdi. Al- 
Mansur's armies went against him. He was routed and killed. His brother Ibrahim 
was appointed his successor. He appeared in al-Basrah. With him was 'Isa b. Zayd b. 
'All. Al- Mansur himself, or his generals, went against him with the army. Both 

Ibrahim and Isa were routed and killed — Ja'far as-Sadiq had told them all that (in 
advance). (His prediction) was considered one of Ja'far's acts of divine grace. — 


Other (Zaydis) assumed that the imam after Muhammad b. 'Abdallah, the 
Pure Soul, was Muhammad b. al-Qasim b. 'All b. 'Umar,— 'Umar being the brother 
of Zayd b. 'Ali. Muhammad b. al-Qasim came forth in at-Taliqin. He was captured 
and brought to al-Mu'tasim, who imprisoned him. He died in prison. 

Other Zaydis say that the imam after Yahya b. Zayd was his brother 'Isa, who 
had participated with Ibrahim b. 'Abdallah in his fight against al-Mansur. They 
consider his descendants the successors to the imamate. The impostor who appeared 
among the Negroes (Zanj during their revolt) considered him his ancestor. We shall 

mention that in connection with the history of the Zanj. ^24 

Other Zaydis say that the imam after Muhammad b. 'Abdallah was his 
brother Idris who fled to the Maghrib and died there. His son Idris b. Idris seized 
power and laid out the city of Fez. His descendants succeeded him as rulers in the 
Maghrib, until they were destroyed, as we shall mention in connection with Idrisid 
history.— Thereafter, the Zaydi power became disorganized and remained so. 

The missionary who ruled Tabaristan, al-Hasan b. Zayd b. Muhammad b. 
Isma'il b. al-Hasan b. Zayd b. alHasan, Muhammad's grandson, as well as his 
brother, Muhammad b. Zayd, also were Zaydis. Zaydi propaganda was then 
continued among the Daylam by the (Husaynid) anNasir al-Utrush. The Daylam 
accepted Islam from him. He was al-Hasan b. 'Ali b. al-Hasan b. 'Ali b. 'Umar, the 
brother of Zayd b. 'Ali. His descendants founded a dynasty in Tabaristan. They 
made it possible for the Daylam to obtain royal authority and control over the 
caliphs in Baghdad. We shall mention this in connection with the history of the 

Daylam. 

The Imamiyah considered (the following) as successors to the imamate after 
'All al-Wasi (the "Legatee") by appointment as heirs. 'Ali's son al-Hasan, (al- 
Hasan's) brother al-Husayn, (al-Husayn's) son 'Ali Zayn-al-'abidin, (’Ali's) son 
Muhammad al-Baqir, and (Muhammad's) son Jafar asSadiq. From there on, they 
split into two sects. One of them considers (Ja'far's) son Ismail as Ja'far's successor 
to the imamate. They recognize Ismail as their imam. They are called the 
Isma'iliyah. The other considers (Ja'far's) son, Musa al-Kazim, as Ja'far's successor 
to the imamate. They are the Twelvers, because they stop with the twelfth imam. 
They say that he remains "removed" until the end of time, as has been mentioned 

before.— 

The Isma'ilis say that the imam Ismail became imam because his father Ja'far 
appointed him (through nasr) to be his successor. (Isma'il) died before his father, but 
according to (the Isma'ilis) the fact that he was determined by his father as his 
successor means that the imamate should continue among his successors. This is 
analogous to the story of Moses and Aaron.— As they say, Isma'il's successor as 

imam was his son Muhammad, the Concealed One (alMaktum).-^ He is the first of 
the hidden imams. According to the Isma'ilis, an imam who has no power goes into 
hiding. His missionaries remain in the open, in order to establish proof (of the 
hidden imam's existence) among mankind. 

When the imam has actual power, he comes out into the open and makes his 
propaganda openly. As they say, after Muhammad, the Concealed One, the hidden 
imams were: his son Jafar al-Musaddiq, Ja'far's son Muhammad al-Habib, the last 
of the hidden imams, and Muhammad's son 'Ubaydallah al-Mahdi. For him, open 
propaganda was made among the Kutamah by Abu 'Abdallah ash-Shi'i. People 
followed his call, and he brought al-Mahdi out of his confinement in Sijilmasah. Al- 
Mahdi became the ruler of al-Qayrawan and the Maghrib. His descendants and 
successors ruled over Egypt, as is well known from their history. 


The Isma'ilis are called "Isma'ilis" with reference to their recognition of the 
imamate of Isma'il. They are also called "Batinis" with reference to their speaking 
about the batin, that is, the hidden, imam. They further are called "heretics," because 
of the heretical character of their beliefs. They have an old and a new persuasion. 
Neo-Isma'ili propaganda was made at the end of the fifth [eleventh] century by al- 
Hasan b. Muhammad as-Sabbah. He ruled over certain fortresses in Syria and the 

'Iraq.— His propaganda persisted there until the Turkish rulers in Egypt and the 
Tatar rulers in the 'Iraq destroyed it in their respective territories. The persuasion for 
which as-Sabbah made propaganda is mentioned in ash-Shahrastani's Kitab al-milal 

wa-n-nihal.— - 

Among recent Shi'ah, the name of Imamiyah is often restricted to the 
Twelvers. They acknowledge the imamate of Musa al-Kazim b. Ja'far because his 
elder brother, the imam Ismail, had died while their father Ja'far was still alive. Jafar 
then appointed Musa (through nasr ) as imam. The imams after Musa were 'Ali ar- 
Rida, who was appointed by al-Ma'mun as his successor (to the caliphate),— but 
died before al-Ma'mun, so that nothing came of it. The imams after 'Ali, then, were 
('Ali's) son Muhammad at-Taqi, (Muhammad's) son 'Ali al-Hadi, ('Ali's) son al- 
Hasan al'Askari, and (al-Hasan's) son Muhammad, the Expected Mahdi, whom we 
have mentioned before. 2^3 

There are many divergences within each of these Shi'ah persuasions. 
However, the sects mentioned are the most prominent ones. For an exhaustive study 
of Shi'ah sects, one should consult the books on religions and sects ( al-milal wa-n- 

nihal) by Ibn Hazm,^^ ash-Shahrastani, and others. They contain additional 
information. 

"God leads astray whomever He wants to lead astray, and He guides 
whomever He wants to guide." — 


26. The transformation of the caliphate into royal authority. 


It 286 should he known that royal authority is the natural goal of group 
feeling. It results from group feeling, not by choice but through (inherent) necessity 

and the order of existence, as we have stated before. 287 All religious laws and 
practices and everything that the masses are expected to do requires group feeling. 
Only with the help of group feeling can a claim be successfully pressed, as we have 
stated before. 288 

Group feeling is necessary to the Muslim community. Its existence enables 
(the community) to fulfill what God expects of it. It is said in (the sound tradition 
of) the Sahih: "God sent no prophet who did not enjoy the protection of his people." 

289 Still, we find that the Lawgiver (Muhammad) censured group feeling and urged 
(us) to reject it and to leave it alone. He said: "God removed from you the arrogance 
of the pre-Islamic times and its pride in ancestors. You are the children of Adam, 

and Adam was made of dust." 290 q oc j "Most noble among you in God's 
(eyes) is he who fears God most." 291 

We also find that (the Lawgiver Muhammad) censured royal authority and its 
representatives. He blamed them because of their enjoyment of good fortune, their 
senseless waste, and their deviations from the path of God. He recommended 
friendship among all Muslims and warned against discord and dissension. 

It should be known that in the opinion of the Lawgiver (Muhammad), all of 
this world is a vehicle for (transport to) the other world. He who loses the vehicle 
can go nowhere. When the Lawgiver (Muhammad) forbids or censures certain 
human activities or urges their omission, he does not want them to be neglected 
altogether. Nor does he want them to be completely eradicated, or the powers from 
which they result to remain altogether unused. He wants those powers to be 
employed as much as possible for the right aims. 292 Every intention should thus 
eventually become the right one and the direction (of all human activities) one and 
the same. It was in this sense that Muhammad said: "He who emigrates to God and 
His Messenger emigrates to God and His Messenger, but he who emigrates to gain 
worldly goods or to marry a woman emigrates to where he emigrates." 293 

The Lawgiver (Muhammad) did not censure wrathfulness 294 j n th e intention 
of eradicating it as a human quality. If the power of wrathfulness were no longer to 
exist in (man), he would lose the ability to help the truth become victorious. There 
would no longer be holy war or glorification of the word of God. Muhammad 
censured the wrathfulness that is in the service of Satan and reprehensible 

purposes, 297 b u t the wrathfulness that is one in God and in the service of God, 
deserves praise. Such (praiseworthy) wrathfulness was one of the qualities of 
Muhammad. 

Likewise, when (the Lawgiver Muhammad) censures the desires, he does not 
want them to be abolished altogether, for a complete abolition of concupiscence in a 
person would make him defective and inferior. He wants the desires to be used for 
permissible purposes to serve the public interests, so that man becomes an active 
servant of God who willingly obeys the divine commands. 


Likewise, when the religious law censures group feeling and says: "Neither 
your blood relatives nor your children will be of use to you (on the Day of 

Resurrection)," 996 (such a statement) is directed against a group feeling that is used 
for worthless purposes, as was the case in pre-Islamic times. It is also directed 
against a group feeling that makes a person proud and superior. For an intelligent 
person to take such an attitude is considered a gratuitous action, which is of no use 
for the other world, the world of eternity. On the other hand, a group feeling that is 
working for the truth and for fulfillment of the divine commands is something 
desirable. If it were gone, religious laws would no longer be, because they 

materialize only through group feeling, as we have stated before. 297 

Likewise, when the Lawgiver (Muhammad) censures royal authority, he does 
not censure it for gaining superiority through truth, for forcing the great mass to 
accept the faith, nor for looking after the (public) interests. He censures royal 
authority for achieving superiority through worthless means and for employing 
human beings for indulgence in (selfish) purposes and desires, as we have stated. If 
royal authority would sincerely exercise its superiority over men for the sake of God 
and so as to cause those men to worship God and to wage war against His enemies, 
there would not be anything reprehensible in it. Solomon said: "O my Lord .. . give 

me royal authority, such as will not fit anyone after me." -98 jq e was sure 0 f 
himself. (He knew) that, as prophet and king, he would have nothing to do with 
anything worthless. 299 

When 'Umar b. al-Khattib went to Syria and was met by Mu'awiyah in full 
royal splendor as exhibited both in the number (of Mu'awiyah's retinue) and his 
equipment, he disapproved of it and said: "Are these royal Persian manners 
( kisrawiyah ), O Mu'awiyah?" Mu'awiyah replied: "O Commander of the Faithful, I 
am in a border region facing the enemy. It is necessary for us to vie with (the 
enemy) in military equipment." 'Umar was silent and did not consider Mu'awiyah to 

be wrong. 900 He had used an argument that was in agreement with the intentions of 
the truth and of Islam. If the intention (implied in 'Umar's remark) had been to 
eradicate royal authority as such, 'Umar would not have been silenced by the answer 
with which Mu'awiyah (excused) his assumption of royal Persian manners. He 
would have insisted that Mu'awiyah give them up altogether. 'Umar meant by "royal 
Persian manners" the attitude of the Persian rulers, which consisted in doing 
worthless things, constantly practicing oppression, and neglecting God. Mu'awiyah 
replied that he was not interested in royal Persian manners as such, or in the 
worthlessness connected with them, but his intention was to serve God. Therefore, 
(’Umar) was silent. 

The same applies to the attitude of the men around Muhammad towards 
abolishing royal authority and its conditions, and forgetting its customs. (The men 
around Mubammad) were wary of the admixture of worthless things that might be 
found in (royal customs). 

When the Messenger of God was about to die, he appointed Abu Bakr as his 
representative to (lead the) prayers, since (praying) was the most important religious 
activity. People were, thus, content to accept (Abu Bakr) as caliph, that is, as the 
person who causes the great mass to act according to the religious laws. No mention 
was made of royal authority, because royal authority was suspected of being 
worthless, and because at that time it was the prerogative of unbelievers and enemies 
of Islam. Abu Bakr discharged the duties of his office in a manner pleasing to God, 
following the Sunnah of his master (Muhammad). He fought against apostates until 
all the Arabs were united in Islam. He then appointed 'Umar his successor. 'Umar 
followed Abu Bakr's example and fought against (foreign) nations. He defeated 


them and permitted the Arabs to appropriate the worldly possessions of (those 
nations) and their royal authority, and the Arabs did that. 

(The caliphate), then, went to 'Uthman b. 'Affan and 'Ali. All (these caliphs) 
renounced royal authority and kept apart from its ways. They were strengthened in 
this attitude by the low standard of living in Islam and the desert outlook of the 
Arabs. The world and its luxuries were more alien to them than to any other nation, 
on account of their religion, which inspired asceticism where the good things of life 
were concerned, and on account of the desert outlook and habitat and the rude, 
severe life to which they were accustomed. No nation was more used to a life of 
hunger than the Mudar. In the Hijaz, the Mudar inhabited a country without 
agricultural or animal products. They were kept from the fertile plains, rich in grain, 
because the latter were too far away and were monopolized by the Rabi'ah and 
Yemenites who controlled them. 301 They had no envy of the abundance of (those 
regions). They often ate scorpions and beetles. They were proud to eat 'ilhiz, that is, 
camel hair ground with stones, mixed with blood, and then cooked. The Quraysh 
were in a similar situation with regard to food and housing. 

Finally, the group feeling of the Arabs was consolidated in Islam through the 
prophecy of Muhammad with which God honored them. They then advanced against 
the Persians and Byzantines, and they looked for the land that God had truthfully 
promised and destined to them. They took away the royal authority of (the Persians 
and the Byzantines) and confiscated their worldly possessions. They amassed 
enormous fortunes. It went so far that one horseman obtained, as his share in one of 
the raids, about 30,000 gold pieces. The amounts they got were enormous. Still, they 
kept to their rude way of life. 'Umar used to patch his (sole) garment with pieces of 

leather. 302 'Ali used to say: "Gold and silver! Go and lure others, not me!" 303 Abu 
Musa ° 04 refrained from eating chicken, because chickens were very rare among the 
Arabs of that time and not (generally) known to them. Sieves were altogether non- 
existent among (the Arabs), and they ate wheat (kernels) with the bran.304a yet, the 
gains they made were greater than any ever made by other human beings. 

Al-Mas'udi 305 says: "In the days of 'Uthman, the men around Muhammad 
acquired estates and money. On the day 'Uthman was killed, 150,000 dinars and 
1,000,000 dirhams were in the hands of his treasurer. The value of his estates in 
Wadi I-Qura and Hunayn and other places was 200,000 dinars. He also left many 
camels and horses. The eighth part of the estate of az-Zubayr after his death 
amounted to 50,000 dinars. He also left 1,000 horses and 1,000 female servants. 
Talhah's income from the 'Iraq was 1,000 dinars a day, and his income from the 

region of ash-Sharah was more than that. The stable of 'Abd-ar-Rahman b. 'Awf 
contained 1,000 horses. He also had 1,000 camels and 10,000 sheep. Onefourth of 
his estate after his death amounted to 84,000. Zayd b. Thabit left silver and gold that 
was broken into pieces with pickaxes, in addition to the (other) property and estates 
that he left, in the value of 100,000 dinars. AzZubayr built himself a residence in al- 
Basrah and other residences in Egypt and al-Kufah and Alexandria. Talhah built one 
in al-Kufah and had his residence in Medina improved. He used plaster, bricks, and 
teakwood. Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas built himself a residence in al-'Aqiq, (a suburb of 
Medina). He made it high and spacious, and had balustrades put on top of it. Al- 

Miqdad 3 0®a built his residence in Medina and had it plastered inside and out. Ya'la 

b. Munyah 3(37 left 50,000 dinars and estates and other things the value of which 
amounted to 300,000 dirhams." End of the quotation from al-Mas'udi. 

Such were the gains people made. Their religion did not blame them for 
(amassing so much), because, as booty, it was lawful property. They did not employ 


their property wastefully but in a planned ^08 wa y j n ( a ]]) their conditions, as we 
have stated. Amassing worldly property is reprehensible, but it did not reflect upon 
them, because blame attaches only to waste and lack of planning, as we have 
indicated. Since their expenditures followed a plan and served the truth and its ways, 
the amassing (of so much property) helped them along on the path of truth and 
served the purpose of attaining the other world. 

Soon, the desert attitude of the Arabs and their low standard of living 
approached its end. The nature of royal authority-which is the necessary 

consequence of group feeling as we have stated ^09 showed itself, and with it, there 
came (the use of) superiority and force. Royal authority, as (the early Muslims) saw 
it, belonged in the same category as luxury and amassed property. (Still,) they did 
not apply their superiority to worthless things, and they did not abandon the 
intentions of the religion or the ways of truth. 

When trouble arose between 'All and Mu'awiyah as a necessary consequence 
of group feeling, they were guided in (their dissensions) by the truth and by 
independent judgment. They did not fight for any worldly purpose or over 
preferences of no value, or for reasons of personal enmity. This might be suspected, 
and heretics might like to think so. However, what caused their difference was their 
independent judgment as to where the truth lay. It was on this matter that each side 
opposed the point of view of the other. It was for this that they fought. Even though 
'Ali was in the right, Mu'awiyah's intentions were not bad ones. He wanted the truth, 
but he missed (it). Each was right in so far as his intentions were concerned. Now, 
the nature of royal authority requires that one person claim all the glory for himself 
and appropriate it to himself. It was not for Mu'awiyah to deny (the natural 
requirement of royal authority) to himself and his people. (Royal authority) was a 
natural thing that group feeling, by its very nature, brought in its train. Even the 
Umayyads and those of their followers who were not after the truth like Mu'awiyah 

felt that. ^ 10 They banded together around him and were willing to die for him. Had 
Mu'awiyah tried to lead them on another course of action, had he opposed them and 
not claimed all the power for (himself and them), it would have meant the 
dissolution of the whole thing that he had consolidated. It was more important to 
him to keep it together than to bother about (a course of action) that could not entail 
much criticism. 

'Umar b. 'Abd-al-'Aziz used to say when(ever) he saw al-Qasim b. 

Muhammad b. Abi Bakr: 311 "If I had anything to say about it, I would appoint him 
caliph." Had he (really) wanted to appoint him as his successor, he could have done 
it, but he was afraid of the Umayyads who held the executive authority, for reasons 
mentioned by us. He was not able to take the power away from them, because to do 
so would have caused a split. All this was the consequence of the tendencies 
inherent in royal authority, as the necessary consequence of group feeling. 

When royal authority is obtained and we assume that one person has it all for 
himself, no objection can be raised if he uses it for the various ways and aspects of 
the truth. Solomon and his father David had the royal authority of the Israelites for 
themselves, as the nature of royal authority requires, and it is well known how great 

a share in prophecy and truth they possessed. 312 

Likewise, Mu'awiyah appointed Yazid as his successor, because he was 
afraid of the dissolution of the whole thing, in as much as the Umayyads did not like 
to see the power handed over to any outsider. Had Mu'awiyah appointed anyone else 
his successor, the Umayyads would have been against him. Moreover, they had a 
good opinion of (Yazid). No one could have doubts in this respect, or suspect that it 
was different with Mu'awiyah. 313 He would not have been the man to appoint Yazid 


his successor, had he believed him to be (really) so wicked. Such an assumption 
must be absolutely excluded in Mu'awiyah's case. 

The same applies to Marwan b. al-Hakam and his son(s). Even though they 
were kings, their royal ways were not those of worthless men and oppressors. They 
complied with the intentions of the truth with all their energy, except when necessity 
caused them to do something (that was worthless). Such (a necessity existed) when 
there was fear that the whole thing might face dissolution. (To avoid that) was more 
important to them than any (other) intention. That this was (their attitude) is attested 
by the fact that they followed and imitated (the early Muslims). It is further attested 
by the information that the ancients had about their conditions. Malik used the 
precedent of 'Abd-al-Malik (b. Marwan) as argument in the Muwatta , 314 Marwan 
belonged to the first class of the men of the second generation, and his excellence is 

well known . 315 The sons of 'Abd-al-Malik, then, came into power one after the 
other. Their outstanding religious attitude is well known. 'Umar b. 'Abd-al-'Aziz 
reigned in between them. He eagerly and relentlessly aspired to (follow) the ways of 
the first four caliphs and the men around Muhammad. 

Then came the later Umayyads. As far as their worldly purposes and 
intentions were concerned, they acted as the nature of royal authority required. They 
forgot the deliberate planning and the reliance upon the truth that had guided the 
activities of their predecessors. This caused the people to censure their actions and 
to accept the 'Abbisid propaganda in the place of (the Umayyads'). Thus, the 
'Abbasids took over the government. The probity of the 'Abbasids was outstanding. 
They used their royal authority to further, as far as possible, the different aspects 
and ways of the truth. (The early 'Abbasids,) eventually, were succeeded by the 
descendants of ar-Rashid. Among them there were good and bad men. Later on, 
when the power passed to their descendants, they gave royal authority and luxury 
their due. They became enmeshed in worldly affairs of no value and turned their 
backs on Islam. Therefore, God permitted them to be ruined, and (He permitted) the 
Arabs to be completely deprived of their power, which He gave to others. "God 

does not do an atom of injustice." 316 Whoever considers the biographies of these 
caliphs and their different approaches to truth and worthlessness knows that what we 
have stated is correct. 

Al-Mas'udi 317 reports a similar judgment concerning the Umayyads on the 
authority of Abu Ja'far al-Mansur. "When al-Mansur's paternal uncles mentioned the 
Umayyads in his presence, he said, "Abd-al-Malik was a tyrant who did not care 
what he did. Sulayman was concerned only with his stomach and with sexual 
pleasure. 'Umar was a one-eyed man among the blind. Hisham was their man." He 
continued: "The Umayyads continued to hold on to the power that had been 
established for them and to preserve it, and to protect the power that God had given 
them. They aspired to lofty matters and rejected base ones. Eventually, the power 
passed to their wasteful descendants who were only concerned with the gratification 
of their desires and with sinful pleasures. They were ignorant of God's attitude to 
sinners, and they felt safe from His punishment. At the same time, they prostituted 
the caliphate. They made light of the privileges of leadership and showed 
themselves too weak for political leadership. Therefore, God stripped them of their 
power. He humiliated them and deprived them of their prosperity." 

"Then, 'Abdallah b. Marwan was brought into the presence (of al-Mansur). 

He had fled from the 'Abbasids and gone to the country of the Nubian king. He now 
told alMansur about an experience he had had with that ruler. He said: I had been 
staying there a little while when their ruler came to me. He sat down on the ground, 

although I had valuable carpets spread out (to sit on ). 318 I asked him what it was 


that prevented him from sitting upon our garments, and he replied, 'I am a ruler, and 
it behooves every ruler to humble himself before the greatness of God, since God 
has raised him (to his exalted position).' Then, he asked me why we drank wine, 
though it is forbidden in our Scripture. I replied: 'Our slaves and followers made 
bold to do that.' Then he asked why we permitted our animals to ride down the green 
crops, although destruction is forbidden us in our Scripture. I replied: 'Our slaves 
and followers did that in their ignorance.' Then, he asked why we wore brocade and 
gold and silk, although this was forbidden us in our Scripture. I replied: 'We lost our 
royal authority and accepted the help of non- Arab peoples who adopted our religion. 
They wore these things against our will.' The Nubian ruler, thereupon, reflected a 
while. He drew figures on the ground with his hand and said (to himself), 'Our 
slaves and followers and non-Arabs who adopted our religion ...' Then he raised his 
head to me and said, 'It is not as you say. No, you are people who have declared (to 
be) permitted that which had been forbidden you by God. You committed deeds you 
had been forbidden to do. And you used your royal authority unjustly. Therefore, 
God stripped you of your power. He humiliated you because of your sins. God is 
taking a revenge which has not yet finished its full course. I am afraid that you will 
be punished while you are staying in my country, and that the punishment will then 
affect me, too. Hospitality lasts three (nights). Therefore, get yourself the provisions 
you need and leave my country.' Al- Mansur wondered (at that story) and reflected 
(some time about it)." 

It has thus become clear how the caliphate is transformed into royal 
authority. The form of government in the beginning was a caliphate. Everybody had 
his restraining influence in himself, that is, (the restraining influence of) Islam. They 
preferred (Islam) to their worldly affairs, even if (the neglect of worldly affairs) led 
to their own destruction, while the mass (of the people, at least,) escaped. 

When 'Uthman was besieged in his house, al-Hasan, alHusayn, 'Abdallah b. 

'Umar, Ibn Ja'far , 319 and others came and offered to defend him. But he refused and 
did not permit swords to be drawn among Muslims. He feared a split and wanted to 
preserve the harmony that keeps the whole thing intact, even if it could be done only 
at the cost of his own destruction. 

At the beginning of his (term of) office, 'Ali himself was advised by al- 
Mughirah to leave az-Zubayr, Mu'awiyah, and Talhah in their positions, until the 
people had agreed to render the oath of allegiance to him and the whole thing was 
consolidated. After that, he might do what he wanted. That was good power politics. 
'Ali, however, refused. He wanted to avoid deceit, because deceit is forbidden by 
Islam. Al-Mughirah came back to him the following morning and said: "I gave you 
that advice yesterday, but then I reconsidered and realized that it was not right and 
was not good advice. You were right." 'Ali replied: "Indeed, no. I know that the 
advice you gave me yesterday was good advice and that you are deceiving me today. 
However, regard for the truth prevented me from following your good advice (of 
yesterday)." 320 To such a degree were these early Muslims concerned with 
improving their religion at the expense of their worldly affairs, while we patch our 
worldly affairs by tearing our religion to pieces. Thus, neither our religion lasts nor 
(the worldly affairs) we have been patching . 3203 

It 321 has thus been shown how the form of government came to be royal 
authority. However, there remained the traits that are characteristic of the caliphate, 
namely, preference for Islam and its ways, and adherence to the path of truth. A 
change became apparent only in the restraining influence that had been Islam and 
now came to be group feeling and the sword. That was the situation in the time of 
Mu'awiyah, Marwan, his son 'Abd-al-Malik, and the first 'Abbasid caliphs down to 
ar-Rashid and some of his sons. Then, the characteristic traits of the caliphate 


disappeared, and only its name remained. The form of government came to be royal 
authority pure and simple. Superiority attained the limits of its nature and was 
employed for particular (worthless) purposes, such as the use of force and the 
arbitrary gratification of desires and for pleasure. 

This was the case with the successors of the sons of 'Abd-al-Malik and the 
'Abbasids after al-Mu'tasim and alMutawakkil. They remained caliphs in name, 
because the Arab group feeling continued to exist. In these two stages caliphate and 
royal authority existed side by side. Then, with the disappearance of Arab group 
feeling and the annihilation of the (Arab) race and complete destruction of 
(Arabism), the caliphate lost its identity. The form of government remained royal 
authority pure and simple. 

This was the case, for instance, with the non- Arab rulers in the East. They 
showed obedience to the caliph in order to enjoy the blessings (involved in that), but 
the royal authority belonged to them with all its titles and attributes. The caliph had 
no share in it. The same was done by the Zanatah rulers in the Maghrib. The 
Sinhajah, for instance, had such a relationship with the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimids), and the 
Maghrawah and also the Banu Yafran (Ifren) with the Utnayyad caliphs in Spain 
and the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimids) in al-Qayrawan. 

It is thus clear that the caliphate at first existed without royal authority. Then, 
the characteristic traits of the caliphate became mixed up and confused. Finally, 
when its group feeling had separated from the group feeling of the caliphate, royal 
authority came to exist alone. 

God determines night and day . 322 


27. The meaning of the oath of allegiance. 


It — should be known that the bay' ah (oath of allegiance) is a contract to 
render obedience. It is as though the person who renders the oath of allegiance made 
a contract with his amir, to the effect that he surrenders supervision of his own 
affairs and those of the Muslims to him and that he will not contest his authority in 
any of (those affairs) and that he will obey him by (executing) all the duties with 
which he might be charged, whether agreeable or disagreeable. 

When people rendered the oath of allegiance to the amir and concluded the 
contract, they put their hands into his hand to confirm the contract. This was 
considered to be something like the action of buyer and seller (after concluding a 
sale). Therefore, the oath of allegiance was called bay’ah, the infinitive of ba’a "to 
sell (or buy)." The bay’ah was a handshake. Such is its meaning in customary 
linguistic terminology and the accepted usage of the religious law. It also is the 
meaning of bay'ah in the traditions concerning the oath of allegiance rendered to the 

Prophet on the night of al-'Aqabah and at the Tree,— and wherever else the word 
occurs. 

The word is used for "oath of allegiance to the caliphs" and in ayman al- 
bay'ah "declarations (of loyalty) in connection with the oath of allegiance." The 
caliphs used to exact an oath when the contract was made and collected the 
declarations (of loyalty) from all Muslims. This then was called ayman al-bay'ah 
"declarations (of loyalty) in connection with the oath of allegiance." It was as a rule 
obtained by compulsion. Therefore, when Malik pronounced the legal decision that 
a declaration obtained by compulsion was invalid, the men in power (at the time) 
disliked (the decision) and considered it an attack upon the declarations (of loyalty) 
made in connection with the oath of allegiance. The imam (Malik), as a result, 
suffered his well-known tribulations.— 

The oath of allegiance that is common at present is the royal Persian custom 
of greeting kings by kissing the earth (in front of them), or their hand, their foot, or 
the lower hem of their garment. The term bay'ah, which means a contract to render 
obedience, was used metaphorically to denote this (custom), since such an abject 
form of greeting and politeness is one of the consequences and concomitants of 
obedience. (The usage) has become so general that it has become customary and has 
replaced the handshake which was originally used, because shaking hands with 
everybody meant that the ruler lowered himself and made himself cheap, things that 
are detrimental to leadership and the dignity of the royal position. However, (the 
handshake is practiced) by a very few rulers who want to show themselves humble 
and who, therefore, themselves shake hands with their nobles and with famous 
divines among their subjects. 

This customary meaning of the oath of allegiance should be understood. A 
person must know it, because it imposes upon him certain duties toward his ruler 
and imam. His actions will thus not be frivolous or gratuitous. This should be taken 
into consideration in one's dealings with rulers. 

God "is strong and mighty." — 



28. The succession. 


It should be known that we have been discussing the imamate and mentioned 
the fact that it is part of the religious law because it serves the (public) interest. (We 
have stated) that its real meaning is the supervision of the interests of the (Muslim) 

nation in both their worldly and their religious affairs.— (The caliph) is the 
guardian and trustee of (the Muslims). He looks after their (affairs) as long as he 
lives. It follows that he should also look after their (affairs) after his death, and, 
therefore, should appoint someone to take charge of their affairs as he had done 
(while alive), whom they can trust to look after them as they had trusted him then. 

(Such appointment of a successor) is recognized as part of the religious law 
through the consensus of the (Muslim) nation, (which says) that it is permissible and 
binding when it occurs. Thus, Abu Bakr appointed 'Umar as his successor in the 
presence of the men around Muhammad. They considered (this appointment) 
permissible and considered themselves obliged by it to render obedience to 'Umar. 
Likewise, 'Umar appointed six persons, the remnant of the ten (men to whom 
Paradise had been guaranteed),— to be members of (an electoral) council ( shura ), 
and he put it up to them to make the choice for the Muslims. Each one deferred to 
(the judgment) of the next man, until it was the turn of 'Abd-arRahman b. 'Awf. He 
applied his independent judgment and discussed the matter with the Muslims. He 
found that they agreed upon 'Uthman and 'Ali. He (himself) preferred 'Uthman as the 
person to receive the oath of allegiance, because (’Uthman) agreed with him 
concerning the obligation to follow the example of the two shaykhs (Abu Bakr and 
’Umar) in every case, without making use of his independent judgment. Thus, 
'Uthman was confirmed, and it was considered necessary to obey him. A great 
number of the men around Muhammad were present on the first and on the second 

(occasion). — None of them expressed the slightest disapproval. This shows that 
they were agreed upon the correctness of the procedure and recognized its legality. It 
is recognized that consensus constitutes proof. 

No suspicion of the imam is justified in this connection, even if he appoints 
his father or his son his successor. He is trusted to look after the affairs of the 
Muslims as long as he lives. He is all the more responsible for not tolerating while 
he is (alive the possibility that there might arise evil) developments after his death. 
This is against those who say that (the imam) is suspect with regard to (the 
appointment of) his son or father, and also against those who consider him suspect 
with regard to (appointment of) his son only, not his father. In fact, he could hardly 
be suspected in this respect in any way. Especially if there exists some reason for 
(the appointment of a successor), such as desire to promote the (public) interest or 
fear that some harm might arise (if no successor were appointed), suspicion of the 
imam is out of the question. 

This, for instance, was the case with Mu'awiyah's appointment of his son 
Yazid.— The action met with agreement of the people, and, therefore, is in itself an 
argument for the problem under discussion (namely, that the imam is not suspect 
with regard to whomever he might appoint). But Mu'awiyah himself preferred his 
son Yazid to any other successor, because he was concerned with the (public) 
interest of preserving unity and harmony among the people, (and realized that he 


could achieve this purpose only by appointing Yazid), since the men who possessed 
executive authority, that is, the Umayyads, agreed at that time upon Yazid. The 
Umayyads were then agreeable to no one except (Yazid). The Umayyads constituted 
the core (group) of the Quraysh and of all the Muslims, and possessed superiority 
(Mu'awiyah,) therefore, preferred (Yazid) to anyone else who might have been 
considered more suited for the caliphate. He passed over the superior person in favor 
of the inferior one, — because he desired to preserve agreement and harmony, 
which is the more important thing in the opinion of the Lawgiver (Muhammad). No 
other motive could be expected of Mu'awiyah. His probity and the fact that he was 
one of the men around Muhammad preclude any other explanation. The presence of 
the men around Muhammad on that occasion and their silence are the best argument 
against doubt in this matter. They were not persons to tolerate the slightest 
negligence in matters of the truth, nor was Mu'awiyah one of those who are too 
proud to accept the truth. They were all above that, and their probity precludes it. 
The fact that 'Abdallah b. 'Umar avoided the issue must be ascribed to his general 
avoidance of participation in any business, whether permissible or forbidden. He is 
well known for this (kind of attitude). Ibn az-Zubayr was the only one left to oppose 
(Mu'awiyah's) appointment, upon which the great mass had agreed. Small minorities 
of persons holding divergent opinions, it is well known, (are treated by jurists as not 
authoritative). 

After Mu'awiyah, caliphs who were used to choose the truth and to act in 
accordance with it, acted similarly. Such caliphs included the Umayyads 'Abd-al- 
Malik and Sulayman and the 'Abbasids as-Saffah, al-Mansur, al-Mahdi, and ar- 
Rashid, and others like them whose probity, and whose care and concern for the 
Muslims are well known. They cannot be blamed because they gave preference to 
their own sons and brothers, in that respect departing from the Sunnah of the first 
four caliphs. Their situation was different from that of the (four) caliphs, who lived 
in a time when royal authority as such did not yet exist, and the (sole) restraining 
influence was religious. Thus, everybody had his restraining influence in himself. 
Consequently, they appointed the person who was acceptable to Islam, and preferred 
him over all others. They trusted everybody who aspired to (the caliphate) to have 
his own restraining influence. 

After them, from Mu'awiyah on, the group feeling (of the Arabs) approached 
its final goal, royal authority. The restraining influence of religion had weakened. 
The restraining influence of government and group was needed. If, under those 
circumstances, someone not acceptable to the group had been appointed as 
successor (to the caliphate), such an appointment would have been rejected by it. 

The (chances of the appointee) would have been quickly demolished, and the 
community would have been split and torn by dissension. 

Someone asked 'Ali: "Why do the people disagree concerning you, and why 
did they not disagree concerning Abu Bakr and ’Umar?" 'Ali replied: "Because Abu 
Bakr and 'Umar were in charge of men like me, and I today am in charge of men 
like you." 2TLa_He referred to the restraining influence of Islam. 

When al-Ma'mun appointed 'Ali b. Mitsa b. Ja'far asSadiq his successor and 
called him ar-Rida, the 'Abbasids greatly disapproved of the action. They declared 
invalid the oath of allegiance that had been rendered to al-Ma'mun, and took the 
oath of allegiance to his uncle Ibrahim b, al-Mahdi. There was so much trouble, 
dissension, and interruption of communications, and there were so many rebels and 
seceders, that the state almost collapsed,— Eventually, al-Ma'mlin went from 
Khurasan to Baghdad and brought matters back to their former conditions. 

Such (differences as the one just cited between caliphate and royal authority) 


must be taken into consideration in connection with (the problem of) succession. 
Times differ according to differences in affairs, tribes, and group feelings, which 
come into being during those (times). Differences in this respect produce, 
differences in (public) interests, and each (public interest) has its own particular 
laws. This is a kindness shown by God to His servants. 

However, Islam does not consider preservation of (the ruler's) inheritance for 
his children the proper purpose in appointing a successor. The (succession to the 
rule) is something that comes from God who distinguishes by it whomsoever He 
wishes. 

It is necessary in (appointing a successor) to be as wellintentioned as 
possible. Otherwise, there is danger that one may trifle with religious institutions. 

God's is the kingdom (royal authority). — He gives it to those of His 
servants to whom He wants to give it. 

There are some matters in this connection which need explanation. 

First: There is the wickedness Yazid displayed when he was caliph. One 
should beware of thinking that Mu'awiyah could have known about it. Mu'awiyah's 
probity and virtue were too great. While he lived, he censured Yazid for listening to 
music and forbade him to do it, and (listening to music) is a lesser sin than (Yazid's 
later wickedness) and is judged differently by the different schools. 

When Yazid's well-known wickedness showed itself, the men around 
Muhammad disagreed about what to do with him. Some were of the opinion that 
they should revolt against him and declare the oath of allegiance that had been 
rendered to him invalid on account of (his wickedness). This was the attitude taken 
by al-Husayn, 'Abdallah b. az-Zubayr, and others. Others rejected that (course of 
action), because it threatened to stir up a revolt and to cause much bloodshed. In 
addition, (they knew that) they would be too weak to achieve success. Yazid's 
strength at that time lay in the Umayyad group feeling and in the Qurashite majority 
who exercised all executive authority. It was they who controlled the group feeling 
of all the Mudar. Thus, they possessed greater strength than anyone else, and no 
resistance to them was possible. Therefore, (the above-mentioned persons knew that 
they) were not in a position to do anything against Yazid. They prayed that he might 
find guidance or that they might be relieved of him. This was the course the majority 
of the Muslims followed. Both parties (of the opposition to Yazid) used their 
independent judgment. Neither of them may be considered at fault. It is well known 
that all their intentions were determined by piety and championship of the truth. 

May God enable us to follow their model. 

Second: There is the matter of the appointment of a successor by the Prophet. 
The Shi'ah claim that Muhammad appointed 'Ali his heir. This is not correct. No 
leading transmitter of traditions has reported such a thing. It is stated in (the sound 
tradition of) the Sahih that Muhammad asked for ink and paper in order to write his 
will, and that 'Umar prevented it.— This clearly shows that (the appointment of 'Ali 
as successor) did not take place. 

There also is the following statement by 'Umar, made after he had been 
stabbed and when he was asked about appointing a successor: "Were I to appoint a 
successor, it would be because someone who is better than I appointed a successor"- 
meaning Abu Bakr-"and were I not to appoint a successor, it would be because 

someone who is better than I did not" -meaning the Prophet.— And the men around 

Muhammad were present and agreed with him that the Prophet — had not 
appointed a successor. 

There is also the statement of 'Ali to al-'Abbas. AT Abbas invited 'All to go in 


to the Prophet (with him), and they both were to ask the Prophet how they stood 
with regard to being appointed as his successor. 'All, however, refused and said: "If 

he keeps us from (the caliphate), we cannot hope ever to get it." — This shows that 
'All knew that Muhammad had not made a will and had not appointed anyone his 
successor. 

The doubt of the Imamiyah in this matter is caused by the fact that they 
assume the imamate to be one of the pillars of the faith. — This is not so. It is one 
of the general (public) interests. The people are delegated to take care of it. If it 
were one of the pillars of the faith, it would be something like prayer, and 
(Muhammad) would have appointed a representative (caliph), exactly as he 
appointed Abu Bakr to represent him at prayer. (Had he done so,) it would have 
become generally known, as was the case with the matter of prayer. That the men 
around Muhammad considered the caliphate as something analogous to prayer and 
on the strength of that attitude argued in favor of Abu Bakr's caliphate, saying, "The 
Messenger of God found him acceptable for our religion. So, why should we not 

accept him for our worldly affairs?" ^39 [ s merely another proof of the fact that no 
appointment of an heir had taken place. It also shows that the question of the 
imamate and succession to it was not as important then as it is today. Group feeling, 
which determines unity and disunity in the customary course of affairs, was not of 
the same significance then (as it was later on). (At that time,) Islam was winning the 
hearts of the people and causing them to be willing to die for it in a way that 
disrupted the customary course of affairs. That happened because people observed 
with their own eyes the presence of angels to help them, the repeated appearance of 
heavenly messages among them, and the constant (Qur'anic) recitation of divine 
pronouncements to them in connection with every happening. Thus, it was not 
necessary to pay any attention to group feeling. Men generally had the coloring of 
submissiveness and obedience. They were thoroughly frightened and perturbed by a 
sequence of extraordinary miracles and other divine happenings, and by frequent 

visitations of angels. ^40 Such questions as that of the caliphate, of royal authority, 
succession, group feeling, and other such matters, were submerged in this turmoil 
the way it happened. 

These helpful (circumstances) passed with the disappearance of miracles and 
the death of the generations that had witnessed them with their own eyes. The 
coloring mentioned changed little by little. The impression the wonders had made 
passed, and affairs took again their ordinary course. The influence of group feeling 
and of the ordinary course of affairs manifested itself in the resulting good and bad 
institutions. The (questions of) caliphate and royal authority and that of the 
succession to both became very important affairs in the opinion of the people. It had 
not been this way before. It should be noted how unimportant the caliphate was in 
the time of the Prophet, (so unimportant that) he did not appoint a successor to it. Its 
importance then increased somewhat during the time of the (early) caliphs because 
there arose certain needs in connection with military protection, the holy war, the 
apostasy (of Arab tribes after Muhammad's death), and the conquests. The (first 
caliphs) could decide whether they would (appoint successors) or not. We mentioned 
this on the authority of 'Umar. Subsequently, as at the present time, the matter has 
become most important in connection with harmony in (military) protection and the 
administration of public interests. Group feeling has come to play a role in it. 

(Group feeling is) the secret divine (factor that) restrains people from splitting up 
and abandoning each other. It is the source of unity and agreement, and the 
guarantor of the intentions and laws of Islam. When this is understood, God's wise 
plans with regard to His creation and His creatures will become clear.— 

Third: There are the wars that took place in Islam among the men around 


Muhammad and the men of the second generation. It should be known that their 
differences concerned religious matters only, and arose from independent 
interpretation of proper arguments and considered insights. Differences may well 
arise among people who use independent judgment. Now, we may say that in the 
case of problems that are open to independent judgment, the truth can lie only on 
one side, and that he who does not hit upon it is in error. But, since it has not been 
clearly indicated by general consensus on which side (the truth lies), every side may 
be assumed to be right. The side that is in error is not clearly indicated, either. To 
declare all sides to be at fault is not acceptable according to the general consensus. 
Again, we may say that all sides have the true answer and that "everybody who uses 

independent judgment is right." — Then, it is all the more necessary to deny that 
any one side was in error or ought to be considered at fault. 

The differences between the men around Muhammad and the men of the 
second generation were no more than differences in the independent interpretation 
of equivocal religious problems, and they have to be considered in this light. 
Differences of the sort that have arisen in Islam include those (1) between 'All on 
the one hand, and Mu'awiyah, as well as az-Zubayr, Talhah, and 'A'ishah on the 
other, (2) between al-Husayn and Yazid, and (3) between Ibn az-Zubayr and 'Abd- 
al- Malik. 

(1) As for the case of 'Ali, (the following may be said:) When 'Uthman was 
killed, the (important Muslims) were dispersed over the various cities. Thus, they 
were not present when the oath of allegiance was rendered to 'Ali. Of those who 
were present, some rendered the oath of allegiance to him. Others, however, waited 
until the people should come together and agree upon an imam. Among those who 
waited were, for instance, Sa'd (b. Abi Waggas), Sa'id (b. Zayd), ('Abdallah) b. 
'Umar, Usamah b. Zayd, al-Mughirah b. Shu'bah, 'Abdallah b. Salim, Qudamah b. 
Maz'un, Abu Sa'id (Sa'd b. Malik) al-Khudri, Ka'b b. 'Ujrah, Ka'b b. Malik, an- 
Nu'man b. Bashir, Hassan b. Thabit, Maslamah b. Makhlad,— Fudalah b. 'Ubayd, 
and other important personalities from among the men around Muhammad. Those 
who were in the various cities also refrained from rendering the oath of allegiance to 
'Ali and were in favor of seeking revenge for 'Uthman, and so they left matters in a 
state of anarchy. Eventually, the Muslims formed an (electoral) council (shard) to 
determine whom they should appoint. They suspected 'Ali of negligence when he 
kept silent and did not help 'Uthman against his murderers, but they did not suspect 
him of having actually conspired against 'Uthman. That would be unthinkable. 

When Mu'awiyah openly reproached 'Ali, his accusation was directed exclusively 
against his keeping silent. 

Later on, they had differences. 'Ali was of the opinion that the oath of 
allegiance that had been rendered to him was binding and obligatory upon those who 
had not yet rendered it, because the people had agreed upon (rendering the oath) in 
Medina, the residence of the Prophet and the home of the men around Muhammad. 
He thought of postponing 'Uthman's revenge until unity was established among the 
people and the whole thing was well organized. Then it would be feasible. Others 
were of the opinion that the oath of allegiance rendered to 'All was not binding, 
because the men around Muhammad who controlled the executive power were 
dispersed all over the world and only a few had been present (when the oath to 'All 
was rendered). (They thought that) an oath of allegiance requires the agreement of 
all the men who control the executive power and that there was no obligation to 
confirm a person who had received it from others or merely from a minority of 
those men. (Thus, they thought that) the Muslims were at the time in a state of 
anarchy and should first seek revenge for 'Uthman and then agree upon an imam. 
This opinion was held by Mu'awiyah, by 'Amr b. al-'As, by the Mother of the 


Muslims, 'A'ishah, by az-Zubayr and his son 'Abdallah, by Talhah and his son 
Muhammad, by Sa'd, by Sa'id, by an-Nu'man b. Bashir, by Mu'awiyah b. Hudayj, 
and by others among the men around Muhammad who followed the opinion of those 
mentioned and who hesitated, as we have mentioned, to render the oath of allegiance 
to 'Ali in Medina. 

However, the men of the second period after them agreed that the oath of 
allegiance rendered to 'All had been binding and obligatory upon all Muslims. They 
considered ('Ali's) opinion the correct one and clearly indicated that the error was on 
Mu'awiyah's side and on that of those who were of his opinion, especially Talhah 
and az-Zubayr, who broke with 'Ali after having rendered the oath of allegiance to 
him, as has been reported. Still, it was not considered acceptable to declare both 
parties at fault, for such a thing is not done in cases of independent judgment. It is 
well known that such became the general consensus among the men of the second 
period as to one of the two opinions held by the men of the first period. 'Ali 
(himself), when asked about those who had died in the Battle of the Camel and the 
Battle of Siffin, replied: "By God, all of them who die with pure heart will be 
admitted by God to paradise." He referred to both parties. This remark was reported 

by at-Tabari and by others.— 

The probity of none of these men should be doubted. No aspersion should be 
cast on them in this connection. It is well known who they were. Their words and 
deeds are models to be followed. Their probity is perfect, in the view of orthodox 
Muslim opinion. The only exception would be a statement by the Mu'tazilah with 

regard to those who fought 'Ali,— but no true believer pays attention to this 
statement or stoops to consider it seriously. He who looks at the matter impartially 
will find excusable, not only the differences among all the people (the Muslims) 
with regard to the affair of 'Uthman, but also all the subsequent differences among 
the men around Muhammad. He will realize that (these quarrels) were temptations 
inflicted by God upon the Muslim nation, while He vanquished the enemies of the 
Muslims and made the Muslims rulers of the lands and country of their enemies, 
and while they established cities in the border territories, in al-Basrah and al-Kufah 
(the ’Iraq), in Syria, and in Egypt. 

Most of the Arabs who setded in those cities were uncivilized. They had 
made little use of the Prophet's company and had not been improved by his way of 
life and manners, nor had they been trained in his qualities of character. Moreover, 
they had been uncivilized in pre- Islamic times, had been possessed by group feeling 
and overbearing pride, and had been remote from the soothing influence of the faith. 
When the (Muslim) dynasty came to be powerful, (these Arabs) were dominated by 
(Meccan) emigrants and (Medinese) Ansar, belonging to the Quraysh, the Kinanah, 
the Thaqif, the Hudhayl, and the inhabitants of the Hijaz and Yathrib (Medina), who 
had been first to adopt the faith of Islam. They were scornful and disliked the 
situation. They saw that they themselves possessed the older pedigree and the 
greater numerical strength, and that they had beaten the Persians and Byzantines. 
They belonged to such tribes as the Bakr b. Wa'il, the 'Abd-al-Qays b. Rabi'ah, the 
Kindah and the Azd of the Yemen, the Tamim and the Qays of the Mudar, among 
others. They grew scornful of the Quraysh and overbearing against them. They 
weakened in their obedience to them. They gave as the reason for their (attitude) the 
unjust treatment they received from them. They sought protection against them. 

They accused them (the Quraysh, etc.) of being too weak for military expeditions 
and of being unfair in distributing (the booty). 

These complaints spread and reached the Medinese with their well-known 
attitude. They considered the matter important and informed 'Uthman about it. He 
sent to the cities to get reliable information. He sent ('Abdallah) b. 'Umar, 


Muhammad b. Maslamah, Usamah b. Zayd, and others. They noticed nothing in the 
(conduct of the) amirs (of the cities) that might call for disapproval, and found no 
fault with them. They reported the situation (to ’Uthman) as they saw it. But the 
accusations on the part of the inhabitants of the cities did not stop. The slanderous 
stories and rumors grew continually. Al-Walid b. 'Uqbah, the governor of alKufah, 
was accused of drinking wine. A large number of Kufians testified against him, and 
'Uthman punished him (as required by the religious law) and deposed him. Then, 
some of the people of those cities came to Medina to ask for the removal of the 
governors. They complained to 'All, 'A'ishah, az-Zubayr, and Talhah. 'Uthman 
deposed some of the governors, but the people still continued their criticisms. Then, 
Sa'id b. al-'As, the governor of al-Kufah, went on a mission (to 'Uthman). When he 
returned, he was intercepted by (the Kufians) on the road and sent back deposed. 
Then differences broke out between 'Uthman and the men around Muhammad who 
were with him in Medina. They resented his refusal to depose (his officials), but he 
did not want to (depose them) except for cause. 

They then shifted their disapproval to other actions of ('Uthman's). He 
followed his own independent judgment, and they did the same. Then, a mob 
banded together and went to Medina, ostensibly in order to obtain redress of their 
grievances from 'Uthman. In fact, they thought of killing him. There were people 
from al-Basrah, al-Kufah, and Egypt among them. 'Ali, 'A'ishah, az-Zubayr, 

Talhah, and others took their side, attempting to quiet things down and to get 
'Uthman to accept their view of the situation. He deposed the governor of Egypt, 
and the people who had come to Medina left, but then, after having gone only a 
short distance, they came back. They had been deceived, they believed, by a forged 
letter which they had found in the hand of a messenger who was carrying it to the 
governor of Egypt. (The letter stated) that they were to be killed (upon their return 
to Egypt). 'Uthman swore that (the letter was not genuine), but they said: "Let us 
have your secretary Marwan." Marwin, too, swore (that he had not written the 
letter). Then 'Uthman said: "No more evidence is needed." Thereupon, however, 
they besieged 'Uthman in his house. They fell upon him in the night when (his 
defenders) were not careful, and killed him. That opened the door to the (ensuing) 
trouble. 

All the (persons involved in the affair of 'Uthman) can be excused in 
connection with the occurrence. All of them were concerned with Islam and were 
not neglectful with regard to any aspect connected with the Muslim religion. After 
the event, they considered the matter and applied their independent judgment. God 
observes their circumstances. He knows these men. We can only think the best of 
them. What we know about their conditions, as well as the statements of the Speaker 
of the Truth (Muhammad praising those men), require us to do so. 

(2) As to (the case of) al-Husayn, (the following may be said:) When the 
great mass of Yazid's contemporaries saw his wickedness, the Shi'ah in al-Kufah 
invited al-Husayn to come to them, saying that they would take his side. AIHusayn 
was of the opinion that a revolt against Yazid was clearly indicated as a duty, 
because of his wickedness. (That duty, he felt,) was especially incumbent upon those 
who had the power to execute it. He felt that he had (that power) in view of his 
qualifications and strength. His qualifications were as good as he thought, and 
better. But, regrettably enough, he was mistaken with regard to his strength. The 
group feeling of the Mudar was in the Quraysh, that of the Quraysh in 'Abd-Manaf, 
and that of 'Abd-Manaf in the Umayyads. The Quraysh and all the others conceded 
this fact and were not ignorant of it. At the beginning of Islam, it had been 
forgotten. People were diverted by fearful wonders and by the Revelation, and by 

frequent visitations of angels in aid of the Muslims. 346 Thus, they had neglected 


their customary affairs, and the group feeling and aspirations of pre-Islamic times 
had disappeared and were forgotten. Only the natural group feeling, serving the 
purpose of military protection and defense, had remained and was used to advantage 
in the establishment of Islam and the fight against the polytheists. The religion 
became well established in (this situation). The customary course of affairs was 
inoperative, until prophecy and the terrifying wonders stopped. Then, the customary 
course of affairs resumed to some degree. Group feeling reverted to its former status 
and came back to those to whom it had formerly belonged. In consequence of their 
previous state of obedience, the Mudar became more obedient to the Umayyads than 
to others. 

Thus, al-Husayn's error has become clear. It was, however, an error with 

respect to a worldly matter, where an error does not do any harm. 34Z From the 
point of view of the religious law, he did not err, because here everything depended 
on what he thought, which was that he had the power to (revolt against Yazid). Ibn 
'Abbas, Ibn az-Zubayr, Ibn 'Umar, (al-Husayn's) brother Ibn al-Hanafiyah, and 
others, criticized (al-Husayn) because of his trip to al-Kufah. They realized his 
mistake, but he did not desist from the enterprise he had begun, because God 
wanted it to be so. 

The men around Muhammad other than al-Husayn, in the Hijaz and with 
Yazid in Syria and in the 'Iraq, and their followers, were of the opinion that a revolt 
against Yazid, even though he was wicked, would not be permissible, because such 
a revolt would result in trouble and bloodshed. They refrained from it and did not 
follow al-Husayn (in his opinion), but they also did not disapprove of him and did 
not consider him at fault. For he had independent judgment, being the model of all 
who ever had independent judgment. One should not fall into the error of declaring 
these people to be at fault because they opposed al-Husayn and did not come to his 
aid. They constituted the majority of the men around Muhammad. They were with 
Yazid, and they were of the opinion that they should not revolt against him. Al- 
Husayn, fighting at Kerbela', asked them to attest to his excellence and the 
correctness of his position. He said: "Ask Jabir b. 'Abdallah, Abu Sa'id (al-Khudri), 

Anas b. Malik, Sahl b. Sa'd, Zayd b. Arqam, and others." 342 Thus, he did not 
disapprove of their not coming to his help. He did not interfere in this matter, 
because he knew that they were acting according to their own independent 
judgment. For his part, he also acted according to independent judgment. 

Likewise, one should not fall into the error of declaring that his murder was 
justified because (it also) was the result of independent judgment, even if (one 

grants that) he (on his part) exercised the (correct) 342 independent judgment. This, 
then, would be a situation comparable to that of Shafi'ites and Malikites applying 

their legal punishment for drinking date liquor (nabhdh) 3SQ to Hanafites. It should 
be known that the matter is not so. The independent judgment of those men did not 
involve fighting against al-Husayn, even if it involved opposition to his revolt. 

Yazid and the men around him 321 were the only ones who (actually) fought against 
(al-Husayn). It should not be said that if Yazid was wicked and yet these (men 
around Muhammad) did not consider it permissible to revolt against him, his actions 
were in their opinion binding and right. It should be known that only those actions 
of the wicked are binding that are legal. The (authorities) consider it a condition of 
fighting evildoers that any such fighting be undertaken with a just (' adil ) imam. 

This does not apply to the question under consideration. Thus, it was not permissible 
to fight against al-Husayn with Yazid or on Yazid's behalf. In matter of fact, 

(Yazid's fight against al-Husayn) was one of the actions that confirmed his 
wickedness. Al-Husayn, therefore, was a martyr who will receive his reward. He 


was right, and he exercised independent judgment. The men around Muhammad 
who were with Yazid were also right, and they exercised independent judgment. 

Judge Abu Bakr b. al-'Arabi al-Maliki 2^3 erred when he made the following 
statement in his book a/Qawasim wa-l-'Awasim: "Al-Husayn was killed according 
to the law of his grandfather (Muhammad)." Ibn al-'Arabi fell into that error because 
he overlooked the condition of the "just (' adil ) imam" which governs the fighting 
against sectarians. 

(3) Ibn az-Zubayr felt about his revolt as al-Husayn had (about his). He was 
under the same impression (as alHusayn regarding his qualifications). But his error 
with regard to his power was greater (than that of al-Husayn). The Bane Asad were 
no match for the Umayyads in either pre- Islamic or Islamic times. It does not apply 
in the case of Ibn Zubayr, as it does in the case of Mu'awiyah against 'Ali, that the 
error is expressly indicated to lie on his opponent's side. In (the case of Mu'awiyah 

against ’Ali), the general consensus has decided the question for us. ^4 In (the case 
of Ibn az-Zubayr), we do not have (a general consensus). The fact that Yazid was in 
error was expressly indicated by the fact of Yazid's wickedness, but 'Abd-al-Malik, 
who had to deal with Ibn az-Zubayr, possessed greater probity than anybody else. It 
is sufficient proof of his probity that Malik used 'Abd-al-Malik's actions as 

proof, ^55 anc j jb n 'Abbas and Ibn 'Umar rendered the oath of allegiance to 
'Abd-al-Malik and left Ibn az-Zubayr with whom they had been together in the 
IHijaz. Furthermore, many of the men around Muhammad were of the opinion that 
the oath of allegiance rendered to Ibn az-Zubayr was not binding, because the men 
who held the executive power were not present, as (they had been) when it was 
rendered to ('Abd-alMalik's father) Marwan. Ibn az-Zubayr held the opposite 
opinion. However, all of them were using independent judgment and were evidently 
motivated by the truth, even though it is not expressly indicated to have been on one 
side. Our discussion shows that the killing of Ibn az-Zubayr did not conflict with the 
basic principles and norms of jurisprudence. Nonetheless, he is a martyr and will 
receive his reward, because of his (good) intentions and the fact that he chose the 
truth. 

This is the manner in which the actions of the ancient Muslims, the men 
around Muhammad and the men of the second generation, have to be judged. They 
were the best Muslims. If we permitted them to be the target of slander, who could 
claim probity! The Prophet said: "The best men are those of my generation, then 
those who follow them, "repeating the latter sentence two or three times-"Then, 

falsehood will spread." ^6 Thus, he considered goodness, that is, probity, a quality 
peculiar to the first period and to the one that followed it. 

One should beware of letting one's mind or tongue become used to criticizing 
any of (the ancient Muslims). One's heart should not be tempted by doubts 
concerning anything that happened in connection with them. One should be as 
truthful as possible in their behalf. They deserve it most. They never differed among 
themselves except for good reasons. They never killed or were killed except in a 
holy war, or in helping to make some truth victorious. 

It should further be believed that their differences were a source of divine 
mercy for later Muslims, so that every (later Muslim) can take as his model the old 
Muslim of his choice and make him his imam, guide, and leader. If this is 
understood, God's wise plans with regard to His creation and creatures will become 
clear. 



29. The functions of the religious institution of the caliphate. 


It h as become clear that to be caliph in reality means acting as substitute 
for the Lawgiver (Muhammad) with regard to the preservation of the religion and 
the political leadership of the world.— The Lawgiver was concerned with both 
things, with religion in his capacity as the person commanded to transmit the duties 
imposed by the religious laws to the people and to cause them to act in accordance 
with them, and with worldly political leadership in his capacity as the person in 
charge of the (public) interests of human civilization. 

We have mentioned before that civilization is necessary to human beings and 
that care for the (public) interests connected with it is likewise (something 
necessary), if mankind is not to perish of neglect.— We have also mentioned before 
that royal authority and its impetus suffice to create (the institutions serving) the 

(public) interest, although they would be more perfect if they were established 
through religious laws, because (the religious law) has a better understanding of the 
(public) interests. 

Royal authority, if it be Muslim, falls under the caliphate and is one of its 
concomitants. (The royal authority) of a non-Muslim nation stands alone. But in any 
case, it has its subordinate ranks and dependent positions which relate to particular 
functions. The people of the dynasty are given (particular) positions, and each one of 
them discharges (the duties of) his position as directed by the ruler who controls 
them all. Thus, the power of the ruler fully materializes, and he is well able to 
discharge his governmental (duties). 

Even though the institution of the caliphate includes royal authority in the 
sense mentioned, its religious character brings with it special functions and ranks 
peculiar to the Muslim caliphs. We are going to mention the religious functions 
peculiar to the caliphate, and we shall come back later on to the functions of royal 
government.— 

It should be known that all the religious functions of the religious law, such 
as prayer, the office of judge, the office of mufti, the holy war, and market 

supervision ( hisbah ) fall under the "great imamate," ^2. which is the caliphate. (The 
caliphate) is a kind of great mainspring and comprehensive basis, and all these 
(functions) are branches of it and fall under it because of the wide scope of the 
caliphate, its active interest in all conditions of the Muslim community, both 
religious and worldly, and its general power to execute the religious laws relative to 
both (religious and worldly affairs). 

The leadership of prayer is the highest of (all) these functions and higher 
than royal authority as such, which, like (prayer), falls under the caliphate. This is 
attested by the (circumstance) that the men around Muhammad deduced from the 
fact that Abu Bakr had been appointed (Muhammad's) representative as prayer 
leader, the fact that he had also been appointed his representative in political 
leadership. They said: "The Messenger of God found him acceptable for our 
religion. So, why should we not accept him for our worldly affairs?" — If prayer 
did not rank higher than political leadership, the analogical reasoning would not 
have been sound. 


If this is established, it should be known that city mosques are of two kinds, 

great spacious ones which are prepared for holiday — prayers; and other, minor 
ones which are restricted to one section of the population or one quarter of the city 
and which are not for the generally attended prayers. Care of the great mosques rests 
with the caliph or with those authorities, wazirs, or judges, to whom he delegates it. 
A prayer leader for each mosque is appointed for the five daily prayers, the Friday 
service, the two festivals, the eclipses of (the sun and the moon), and the prayer for 
rain. This (arrangement) is obligatory only in the sense that it is preferable and 
better. It also serves the purpose of preventing the subjects from usurping one of the 
duties of the caliphs connected with the supervision of the general (public) interests. 
The (arrangement) is considered necessary by those who consider the Friday service 
necessary, and who, therefore, consider it necessary to have a prayer leader 
appointed. 

Administration of the mosques that are restricted to one section of the 
population or to one quarter of the city rests with those who live nearby. These 
mosques do not require the supervision of a caliph or ruler. 

The laws and conditions governing the office of (prayer leader) and the 
person entrusted with it are known from the law books. They are well explained in 

the books on administration ( al-Ahkam as-sultaniyah ) by al-Mawardi — and other 
authors. We shall not, therefore, mention them at any length. The first caliphs did 
not delegate the leadership of prayer. The fact that certain of the caliphs were 
stabbed in the mosque during the call to prayer, being expected (by the assassins to 
be there) at the prayer times, shows that the caliphs personally led the prayer and 
were not represented by others. This custom was continued by the Umayyads later 
on. They considered it their exclusive privilege and a high office to lead the prayer. 
The story goes that 'Abd-alMalik said to his doorkeeper ( hajib ): "I have given you 
the office of keeper of my door, (and you are entitled to turn away anyone) save 
these three persons: the person in charge of food, because it might spoil if kept back; 
the person in charge of the call to prayer, because he calls the people to God; and 
the person in charge of the mails, because delaying the mail might mean the ruin of 
the remote provinces." — 

Later, when the nature of royal authority, with its qualities of harshness and 
unequal treatment of the people in their religious and worldly affairs, made itself 
felt, (the rulers) chose men to represent them as prayer leaders. They reserved for 
themselves the leadership of prayer at certain times and on general (festive) 
occasions, such as the two holidays and the Friday service. This was for purposes of 
display and ostentation. Many of the Abbasid and 'Ubaydid(-Fatimid) (caliphs) did 
this at the beginning of their respective dynasties. 


( The office of mufti) 

As to the office of mufti, the caliph must examine the religious scholars and 
teachers and entrust it only to those who are qualified for it. He must help them in 
their task, and he must prevent those who are not qualified for the office from 
(becoming muftis). (The office of mufti) is one of the (public) interests of the 
Muslim religious community. (The caliph) has to take care, lest unqualified persons 
undertake to act as (mufti) and so lead the people astray. 

Teachers have the task of teaching and spreading religious knowledge and of 
holding classes for that purpose in the mosques. If the mosque is one of the great 
mosques under the administration of the ruler, where the ruler looks after the prayer 
leaders, as mentioned before, teachers must ask the ruler for permission to (teach 
there). If it is one of the general mosques, no permission is needed. However, 


teachers and muftis must have some restraining influence in themselves that tells 
them not to undertake something for which they are not qualified, so that they may 
not lead astray those who ask for the right way or cause to stumble those who want 
to be guided. A tradition says: "Those of you who most boldly approach the task of 

giving fatwas are most directly heading toward hell." — The ruler, therefore, has 
supervision over (muftis and teachers) and can give, or deny, them permission to 
exercise their functions, as may be required by the public interest. 

(The office of judge ) 

The office of judge is one of the positions that come under the caliphate. It is 
an institution that serves the purpose of settling suits and breaking off disputes and 
dissensions. It proceeds, however, along the lines of the religious laws laid down by 
the Qur'an and the Sunnah. Therefore, it is one of the positions that belongs to the 
caliphate and falls under it generally. 

At the beginning of Islam, the caliphs exercised the office of judge 
personally. They did not permit anyone else to function as judge in any matter. The 
first caliph to charge someone else with exercise of (the office of judge) was 'Umar. 
He appointed Abu d-Darda' — to be judge with him in Medina, he appointed 
Shurayh as judge in al-Basrah, and Abu Musa al-Ash'ari as judge in al-Kufah. On 
appointing (Abu Musa), he wrote him the famous letter that contains all the laws that 

govern the office of judge, and is the basis of them. He says in it:^£2 

Now, the office of judge is a definite religious duty and a generally followed 
practice. 

Understand the depositions that are made before you, for it is useless to 
consider a plea that is not valid. 

Consider all the people equal before you in your court and in your attention, 
so that the noble will not expect you to be partial and the humble will not despair of 
justice from you. 

The claimant must produce evidence; from the defendant, an oath may be 
exacted. 

Compromise is permissible among Muslims, but not any agreement through 
which something forbidden would be permitted, or something permitted forbidden. 

If you gave judgment yesterday, and today upon reconsideration come to the 
correct opinion, you should not feel prevented by your first judgment from 
retracting; for justice is primeval, and it is better to retract than to persist in 
worthlessness. 

Use your brain about matters that perplex you and to which neither Qur'an 
nor Sunnah seem to apply. Study similar cases and evaluate the situation through 
analogy with those similar cases. 

If a person brings a claim, which he may or may not be able to prove, set a 
time limit for him. If he brings proof within the time limit, you should allow his 
claim, otherwise you are permitted to give judgment against him. This is the better 
way to forestall or clear up any possible doubt. 

All Muslims are acceptable as witnesses against each other, except such as 

have received a punishment — provided for by the religious law, such as are proved 
to have given false witness, and such as are suspected (of partiality) on (the ground 
of) client status or relationship, for God, praised be He, forgives because of oaths [? 

] — and postpones (punishment) in face of the evidence. 


Avoid fatigue and weariness and annoyance at the litigants. 

For establishing justice in the courts of justice, God will grant you a rich 
reward and give you a good reputation. Farewell. 

End of 'Umar's letter. 


Although the personal exercise of the office of judge was to have been the 
task of (the caliphs), they entrusted others with it because they were too busy with 
general politics and too occupied with the holy war, conquests, defense of the border 
regions, and protection of the center. These were things which could not be 
undertaken by anyone else because of their great importance. They considered it an 
easy matter to act as judge in litigation among the people and, therefore, had 
themselves represented by others in the exercise of (the office of judge), so as to 
lighten their own (burden). Still, they always entrusted the office only to people who 
shared in their group feeling either through (common) descent or their status as 
clients. They did not entrust it to men who were not close to them in this sense. 

The laws and conditions that govern the institution (of the judiciary) are 
known from works on jurisprudence and, especially, from books on administration 
( al-Ahkam assultaniyah). In the period of the caliphs, the duty of the judge was 
merely to settle suits between litigants. Gradually, later on, other matters were 
referred to them more and more often as the preoccupation of the caliphs and rulers 
with high policy grew. Finally, the office of judge came to include, in addition to the 
settling of suits, certain general concerns of the Muslims, such as supervision of the 
property of insane persons, orphans, bankrupts, and incompetents who are under the 
care of guardians; supervision of wills and mortmain donations and of the marrying 

of marriageable women without guardians (wall) to give them away according to 
the opinion of some authorities; supervision of (public) roads and buildings; 
examination of witnesses, attorneys, and court substitutes,— to acquire complete 
knowledge and full acquaintance relative to their reliability or unreliability. All 
these things have become part of the position and duties of a judge. 

Former caliphs had entrusted the judge with the supervision of torts.— This 
is a position that combines elements both of government power and judicial 
discretion. It needs a strong hand and much authority to subdue the evildoer and 
restrain the aggressor among two litigants. In a way, it serves to do what the judges 
and others are unable to do. It is concerned with the examination of evidence, with 
punishments not foreseen by the religious law, with the use of indirect and 
circumstantial evidence, with the postponement of judgment until the legal situation 
has been clarified, with attempts to bring about reconciliation between litigants, and 
with the swearing in of witnesses. This is a wider field than that with which the 
judges are concerned. 

The first caliphs exercised that function personally until the days of the 
'Abbasid al-Muhtadi. Often, they also delegated it to their judges. 'All,— for 
instance, (delegated torts) to his judge, Abu Idris al-Khawlani; — al-Ma'min to 

Yahya b. Aktham; — and al-Mu'tasim to Ibn Abi Du'id.^ZS They also often 
entrusted the judges with leadership of the holy war in summer campaigns. Yahyi b. 
Aktham thus went on a summer campaign against the Byzantines in the days of al- 
Ma'mun. The same was done by Mundhir b. Sa'id ,— judge under the Spanish 
Umayyad 'Abd-ar-Rahman an-Nasir. Making appointments to these functions was 
the task of the caliphs or of those to whom they entrusted it, such as a minister to 
whom full powers were delegated, or a ruler who had gained superiority. 


( The police ) 

In the 'Abbasid dynasty and in the dynasties of the Umayyads in Spain and 
under the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimids) in Egypt and the Maghrib, the control of crimes and 
imposition of punishments required by the religious law was also a special (task) 
and was delegated to the chief of police ( sahib ashshurtah).— The police is another 
religious function that under these dynasties belonged to the positions connected 
with the religious law. Its field is somewhat wider than that of the office of judge. It 
makes it possible for suspects to be brought into court. It decides upon preventive 
punishments before crimes have been committed. It imposes the punishments 
required by the religious law where they are due, and determines compensation in 
cases of bodily injury where the law of talion applies. It imposes punishments not 
provided for by the religious law, and provides for corrective measures against those 
who did not execute the crimes (they planned). 

The proper functions of the police and of torts were forgotten during the 
dynasties in which the nature of the caliphate was no longer remembered. Torts were 
transferred to the ruler whether he had been delegated by the caliph to take care of 
them or not. The police function was split into two parts. One of them was that of 
taking care of suspects, imposing the punishments required by the religious law, and 
amputating (criminals condemned for crimes punished by the amputation of a limb), 
and seeing to it that the laws of talion were applied where appropriate. For these 
duties, the dynasties appointed an official who exercised his office in the service of 
the political (establishment) without reference to the religious laws. (That official) 
was sometimes called wall (governor), and sometimes shurtah (police). The 
remaining (former police functions dealt with) punishments not provided for by the 
religious law and the imposition of punishments for crimes fixed by the religious 
law. They were combined with the functions of judge previously mentioned. They 
became part of the official duties of the office (of judge), and have so remained 
down to this time. 

This position was taken away from the people who shared in the group 
feeling of the dynasty. When there was a religious caliphate, the caliph entrusted the 
function, since it was a religious office, only to Arabs or to clients-allies, slaves, or 
followers-who shared in their group feeling and upon whose ability and competence 
to execute the tasks they could rely. 

When the character and appearance of the caliphate changed and royal and 
government authority took over, the religious functions lost to some degree their 
connection with (the powers in control), in as much as they did not belong among 
the titles and honors of royal authority. The Arabs later on lost all control of the 
government. Royal authority fell to Turkish and Berber nations. These caliphal 
functions, as far as their character and the group feeling that belonged to them was 
concerned, were even more remote from them (than from their predecessors). This 
was because the Arabs had been of the opinion that the religious law was their 
religion and that the Prophet was one of them and that his religious laws 
distinguished them in their thought and action from the (other) nations. The non- 
Arabs did not think that way. If they had some respect for (these functions) it was 
merely because they had become Muslims. Therefore, they came to entrust them to 
men outside their own group who had become familiar with (these functions) in the 
dynasties of former caliphs. Under the influence of the luxury of the dynasties to 
which they had been accustomed for hundreds of years, these people had forgotten 
the old desert period and desert toughness. They had acquired (the habits of) 
sedentary culture, luxurious customs, tranquility, and lack of ability to take care of 
themselves. In the kingdoms that succeeded the (rule of the) caliphs, the functions of 
the caliphate became the prerogative of this kind of urban weakling. They were no 


longer exercised by people of prestige, but by persons whose qualifications were 
limited, both by their descent (which was different from that of the men in power) 
and by the (habits of) sedentary culture to which they had become accustomed. They 
were despised as sedentary people are, who live submerged in luxury and 
tranquility, who have no connection with the group feeling of the ruler, and who 
depend on being protected (by others). Their position in the dynasty derives from 
the fact that (the dynasty) takes care of the Muslim religious community and follows 
the religious laws, and that these persons know the laws and can interpret them 
through legal decisions ( fatwa ). They have no standing in the dynasty because they 
are honored as personalities. Their standing merely reflects an affectation of respect 
for their position in the royal councils, where it is desired to make a show of 
reverence for the religious ranks. They do not have executive authority to make 
decisions in (these councils). If they participate in (the making of decisions), it is 
just as a matter of form, with no reality behind it. Executive authority in reality 
belongs to those who have the power to enforce (their decisions). Those who do not 
have the power (to enforce their decisions) have no executive authority. They are 
merely used as authorities on religious law, and their legal decisions (fatwa) are 
accepted. This is indeed the fact. God gives success. 

Some scholars think that this is not right, and that rulers who keep jurists and 
judges out of (their) councils act wrongly, since Muhammad said, "The scholars are 
the heirs of the prophets." — However, it should be known that it is not as (such 

scholars) thinks— Royal and governmental authority is conditioned by the natural 
requirements of civilization; were such not the case, it would have nothing to do 
with politics. The nature of civilization does not require that (jurists and scholars) 
have any share (in authority). Advisory and executive authority belongs only to the 
person who controls the group feeling and is by it enabled to exercise authority, to 
do things or not do them. Those who do not have group feeling, who have no 
control over their own affairs, and who cannot protect themselves, are dependent 
upon others. How, then, could they participate in councils, and why should their 
advice be taken into consideration? Their advice as derived from their knowledge of 
the religious laws (is taken into consideration) only in so far as they are consulted 
for legal decisions (fatwa). Advice on political matters is not their province, because 
they have no group feeling and do not know the conditions and laws which govern 
(group feeling). To pay honor to (jurists and scholars) is an act of kindness on the 
part of rulers and amirs. It testifies to their high regard for Islam and to their respect 
for men who are in any way concerned with it. 

To understand Muhammad's statement, "The scholars are the heirs of the 
prophets," it should be realized that the jurists of this time and of the recent past 
have represented the religious law mainly by ruling on ritual practices and questions 
of mutual dealings (among Muslims). They make (such rulings) for those who need 
them to be able to act in accordance with them. This has been the goal of (even) the 
greatest among (them). They are identified with (the religious law) only to a limited 
extent (and are known to be experts in it only) under certain conditions. The early 
Muslims, as well as pious and austere Muslims, on the other hand, represented the 
religious law in (all its aspects) and were identified with (all of) it and known to 
have had a thorough (practical) knowledge of its ways. People who represent the 
religious law without (recourse to the process of) transmission, may (be called) 

"heirs." Such, for instance, were the men mentioned in al-Qushayri's Risalah.— 
People who combine the two things — are religious scholars, the real "heirs," such 
as the jurists among the men of the second generation, the ancient Muslims, and the 
four imams,— as well as those who took them as models and followed in their 
steps. In the case of a Muslim who has only one of the two things, the better claim 


to be called an "heir" goes to a pious person rather than to a jurist who is not pious. 
The pious man has inherited a quality. The jurist who is not pious, on the other hand, 
has not inherited anything. He merely makes rulings for us as to how to act. This 

applies to the majority of contemporary (jurists) — "except those who believe and 
do good, and they are few." — 


The position of official witness ('adalah)— 

(The position of official witness) is a religious position depending on the 
office of judge and connected with court practice. The men who hold it give 
testimony-with the judge's permission-for or against people's (claims). They serve as 
witnesses when testimony is to be taken, testify during a lawsuit, and fill in the 
registers which record the rights, possessions, and debts of people and other (legal) 
transactions. This is the significance of the position. 

We — have mentioned "the judge's permission" because people may have 
become confused, and (then) only the judge knows who is reliable and who not. 
Thus, in a way, he gives permission (and he does so only) to those of whose probity 
he is sure, so that people's affairs and transactions will be properly safeguarded. 

The prerequisite governing this position is the incumbent's possession of the 
quality of probity ('adalah) according to the religious law, his freedom from 
unreliability. Furthermore, he must be able to fill in the (court) records and make 
out contracts in the right form and proper order and correctly, (observing) the 
conditions and stipulations governing them from the point of view of the religious 
law. Thus, he must have such knowledge of jurisprudence as is necessary for the 
purpose. Because of these conditions and the experience and practice required, (the 
office) came to be restricted to persons of probity. Probity came to be (considered) 
the particular quality of persons who exercise this function. But this is not so. 
Probity is one of the prerequisites qualifying them for the office. 

The judge must examine their conditions and look into their way of life, to 
make sure that they fulfill the condition of probity. He must not neglect to do so, 
because it is his duty to safeguard the rights of the people. The responsibility for 
everything rests with him, and he is accountable for the outcome. 

Once (official witnesses) have been shown clearly to be qualified for the 
position, they become (more) generally useful (to the judges). (They can be used) to 
find out about the reliability of other men whose probity is not known to the judges, 
because of the large size of cities and the confused conditions (of city life). (It is 
necessary to know their reliability) because it is necessary for judges to settle 
quarrels among litigants with the help of reliable evidence. In assessing the 
reliability of (the evidence), they usually count upon these professional witnesses. In 
every city, they have their own shops and benches where they always sit, so that 
people who have transactions to make can engage them to function as witnesses and 
register the (testimony) in writing. 

The term "probity" ( adalah ) thus came to be used both for the position 
whose significance has just been explained and for "probity (reliability)" as required 
by the religious law, which is used paired with "unreliability." The two are the same, 
but still, they are different. And God knows better. 


Market supervision ( bisbah ) and mint 

The office of market supervisor ( hisbah ) is a religious position. It falls under 
the religious obligation "to command to do good and forbid to do evil," which rests 


with the person in charge of the affairs of the Muslims. He appoints to the position 
men whom he considers qualified for it. The obligation thus devolves upon the 
appointee. He may use other men to help him in his job. He investigates abuses and 
applies the appropriate punishments and corrective measures. He sees to it that the 
people act in accord with the public interest in the town (under his supervision). For 
instance, he prohibits the obstruction of roads. He forbids porters and boatmen to 
carry too heavy loads. He orders the owners of buildings threatening to collapse, to 
tear them down and thus remove the possibility of danger to passersby. He prevents 
teachers in schools and other places from beating the young pupils too much.— His 
authority is not restricted to cases of quarrels or complaints, but he (has to) look 
after, and rule on, everything of the sort that comes to his knowledge or is reported 
to him. He has no authority over legal claims in general but he has authority over 
everything relating to fraud and deception in connection with food and other things 
and in connection with weights and measures. Among his duties is that of making 
dilatory debtors pay what they owe, and similar things that do not require hearing of 
evidence or a legal verdict, in other words, cases with which a judge would have 
nothing to do because they are so common and simple. (Such cases,) therefore, are 
referred to the person who holds the office of market supervisor to take care of 
them. 

The position of (market supervisor), consequently, is subordinate to the 
office of judge. In many Muslim dynasties, such as the dynasties of the 'Ubaydid(- 
Fatimids) in Egypt and the Maghrib and that of the Umayyads in Spain, (the office 
of market supervisor) fell under the general jurisdiction of the judge, who could 
appoint anyone to the office at discretion. Then, when the position of ruler became 
separated from the caliphate and when (the ruler) took general charge of all political 
matters, the office of market supervisor became one of the royal positions and a 
separate office. 


The mint 3^1 

The office of the mint is concerned with the coins used by Muslims in 
(commercial) transactions, with guarding against possible falsification or 
substandard quality (clipping) when the number of coins (and not the weight of their 
metal) is used in transactions, and with all else relating to (monetary matters.) 
Further, the office is concerned with putting the ruler's mark upon the coins, thus 
indicating their good quality and purity. The mark is impressed upon the coins with 
an iron seal that is especially used for the purpose and that has special designs 
(legends) on it. It is placed upon the dinar and the dirham after their proper weight 
has been established, and is then beaten with a hammer until the designs have been 
impressed upon the coin. This then indicates the good quality of the coin according 
to the best methods of melting and purification customary among the inhabitants of 
a particular region under the ruling dynasty. (The metal standard) is not something 
rigidly fixed but depends upon independent judgment. Once the inhabitants of a 
particular part or region have decided upon a standard of purity, they hold to it and 
call it the "guide" (imam) or "standard" (' iyar ). They use it to test their coins. If they 
are substandard, they are bad. 

Supervision of all these things is the duty of the holder of the office (of the 
mint). In this respect, it is a religious office and falls under the caliphate. It used to 
belong to the general jurisdiction of the judge, but now has become a separate 
office, as is the case with that of market supervision. 

This is all that is to be said about caliphal positions. There were other 
positions that disappeared when the things that were their concern disappeared. 


Further, there are positions that became positions of rulers other than the caliph. 
Such are the positions of amir and wazir, and those concerned with warfare and 
taxation. They will be discussed later on in their proper places. 

The position concerned with (prosecution of) the holy war ceased to exist 
when the holy war was no longer waged, save in a few dynasties which, as a rule, 
classify the laws governing it under the governmental (and not the caliphal) 
authority. Likewise, the office of marshal of the nobility consisting of relatives of 
the caliphs, whose descent gives them a claim to the caliphate or to an official 
pension, disappeared when the caliphate ceased. 

In' general, the honors and positions of the caliphate merged with those of 
royal authority and political leadership. This is the present situation in all dynasties. 

God governs all affairs in His wisdom. 



30. The title of "Commander of the Faithful," which 
is characteristic of the caliph. 


It was created in the period of the first four caliphs. This is because the men 
around Muhammad and all the other early Muslims called Abu Bakr, when he 
received the oath of allegiance, "representative" ( khalifah , caliph) of the Messenger 
of God. This form (of address) was used until he died. Then, the oath of allegiance 
was rendered to 'Umar who was appointed by (Abu Bakr), and people called 'Umar 
"Representative of the Representative of the Messenger of God." However, they 
considered the title somewhat cumbersome. It was long and had a succession of 
genitives. (With successive caliphs,) that (style) would become longer and longer 
and end up as a tongue twister, and (the title) would no longer be distinct and 
recognizable because of the great number of dependent genitives. Therefore, they 
tried to replace the title by some other one appropriate to a (caliph). 

The leaders of (military) missions used to be called "amirs,” a fail 
(formation) connected with imarah (commandership). Before becoming Muslims, 
people used to call the Prophet "Amir of Mecca" and "Amir of the Hijaz." The men 
around Muhammad also used to call Sa'd b. Abi Waqqas "Commander (amir) of the 
Muslims," because he commanded the army at al-Qadisiyah. (The army there) at 
that time was the largest agglomeration of Muslims (that existed). 

Now, it so happened that one of the men around Muhammad addressed 
'Umar as "Commander of the Faithful" (amir al-mu'minin). People liked (this form 
of address) and approved it. Thus, they called 'Umar by (this title). It is said that the 
first to call him by this title was 'Abdallah b. Jahsh.— According to others, it was 
'Amr b. al-'As and alMughirah b. Shu'bah. Again, according to others, it was a 

messenger [?] — who brought (the news) of victory from a (military) mission. He 
entered Medina and asked for 'Umar with the words, "Where is the Commander of 
the Faithful?" The men around (’Umar) heard this and liked it. They said: "Indeed, 
you give him the right title. He is truly the Commander of the Faithful." Thus, they 
called 'Umar (Commander of the Faithful), and this became his title among the 
people. The caliphs who succeeded him inherited the title as a characteristic which 
no other person shared with them. This was the case with all the Umayyads. 

The Shi'ah used the title of Imam for 'Ali, ascribing to him the "imamate," 
which is a related expression for caliphate. (They called him Imam,) in order to 
display the novel theory that 'Ali was more entitled to lead the prayer (imamah) than 
Abu Bakr. They restricted the title (of Imam) to ('Ali) and to those after him whom 
they considered his successors to the caliphate. All these men were called Imam as 
long as their propaganda for them was clandestine. But when they eventually seized 
power (openly), they changed the title of their successors to that of Commander of 
the Faithful. This was done by the 'Abbasid Shi'ah. They had always called their 
leaders Imam down to Ibrahim, for whom they came out into the open and unfurled 
the banner of war. When (Ibrahim) died, his brother as-Saffah was called 
Commander of the Faithful. The same was the case with the extremist Shi'ah in 
Ifriqiyah. They always called their leaders, who were descendants of Ismail, Imam, 
until 'Ubaydallah al-Mahdi came to power. They continued to call him, and also his 
son and successor Abul-Qasim, Imam. But when their power was secure, their 
successors were called Commander of the Faithful. The same was the case with the 


Idrisids in the Maghrib. They called Idris, and also his son and successor Idris the 
Younger, Imam. This is (Shi'ah) procedure. 

The caliphs inherited the title of Commander of the Faithful from each other. 
It became a characteristic of the ruler of the Hijaz, Syria, and the 'Iraq, the regions 
that were the home of the Arabs and the center of the Muslim dynasty and the base 

^24_of Islam and Muslim conquest. Therefore, (it was no longer distinctive) when 
the (’Abbasid) dynasty reached its flowering and prime, (and) another style of 
address gained currency, one that served to distinguish them from each other, in as 
much as the title of Commander of the Faithful was one they all had. The 'Abbasids 
took surnames such as as-Saffah, al-Mansur, al-Mahdi, al-Hadi, ar-Rashid, and so 
on, and thus created a sort of cover to guard their proper names against abuse by the 
tongues of the common people and protect them against profanation. (They 
continued with that custom) down to the end of the dynasty. The 'Ubaydid(- 
Fatimids) in Ifriqiyah and Egypt followed their example. 

The Umayyads refrained from that (for a long time). The earlier Umayyads 
in the East had done so, in keeping with their austerity and simplicity. Arab manners 
and aspirations had not yet been abandoned in their time, and (the Umayyads) had 
not yet exchanged Bedouin characteristics for those of sedentary culture. The 
Umayyads in Spain also refrained from such titles, because they followed the 
tradition of their ancestors. Moreover, they were conscious of their inferior position, 
since they did not control the caliphate which the 'Abbasids had appropriated, and 

had no power over — the Hijaz, the base of the Arabs and Islam, and were remote 
from the seat of the caliphate around which the group feeling (of the Arabs) 
centered. By being rulers of a remote region, they merely protected themselves 
against the persecution of the 'Abbasids. Finally, however, at the beginning of the 

fourth [tenth] century, the (Umayyad) 'Abd-arRahman the Last — (III) an-Nasir (b. 
Muhammad) b. alamir 'Abdallah b. Muhammad b. 'Abd-ar-Rahman II, appeared on 
the scene. It became known how gready the liberty of the caliphate in the East had 
been curtailed and how the clients of the 'Abbasids had taken control of the dynasty 
and had achieved complete power to depose, replace, kill, or blind the caliphs. 'Abd- 
ar-Rahman III, therefore, adopted the ways of the caliphs in the East and in 
Ifriqiyah: He had himself called Commander of the Faithful and assumed the 
surname of an-Nasir-li-din-Allah. This custom, which he had been the first to 
practice, was followed and became an established one. His ancestors and the early 
(Umayyads) had not had it. 

This situation prevailed down to the time when Arab group feeling was 
completely destroyed and the caliphate lost its identity. Non- Arab clients gained 
power over the 'Abbasids; followers (of their own making) gained power over the 
'Ubaydid(-Fatimids) in Cairo; the Sinhajah gained power over the realm of Ifriqiyah; 
the Zanitah gained power over the Maghrib; and the reyes de taifas in Spain gained 
power over the Umayyads. (Each of) these (groups) took over part of (the caliphate). 
The Muslim empire dissolved. The rulers in the West and the East adopted different 
titles. Formerly, they had all been called by the name of Sultan. 

The non- Arab rulers in the East were distinguished by the caliphs with 
special honorific surnames indicating their subservience and obedience and their 
good status as officials. (Such surnames included) Sharaf-ad-dawlah, 'Adud-ad- 
dawlah, Rukn-ad-dawlah, Mu'izz-ad-dawlah, Nasir-ad-dawlah, Nizam-al-mulk, 

Bahi'-al-mulk, Dhakhirat-al-mulk, and so on.^^-The 'Ubaydid (-Fatimids) used 
also to distinguish the Sinhajah amirs in that manner. When these men gained 
control over the caliphs, they were satisfied to keep these surnames and did not 
adopt caliphal titles out of deference to the institution and in order to avoid any 


usurpation of its peculiar characteristics, as is customary among those who gain 

power and control (over an existing institution), as we have stated before.— 
However, later on, the non- Arabs in the East strengthened their grip on royal 
authority and became more and more prominent in state and government. The group 
feeling of the caliphate vanished and dissolved completely. At that time, these non- 
Arabs were inclined to adopt titles that were characteristic of royal authority, such 
as an-Nasir and al-Mansur. This was in addition to the titles they had previously 
held and which indicated that they were no longer clients and followers through the 
fact that they were simply combinations with din (religion), such as Salah-ad-din, 

Asad-ad-din, and Nur-ad-din.— ^3. 

The reyes de taifas in Spain, who had a powerful grip on (the caliphate) by 
virtue of the fact that they shared in its tribal group feeling, divided up and 
distributed among themselves the caliphal titles. They had themselves called an- 
Nasir, al-Mansur, al-Mu'tamid, al-Muzaffar, and so on. Ibn Sharaf criticized them 
for this in these verses: 

What makes me feel humble in Spain 

Is the use of the names Mu'tasim and Mu'tadid there. 

Royal surnames not in their proper place: 

Like a cat that by blowing itself up imitates the lion.— 

The Sinhajah restricted themselves to the display titles that the 'Ubaydid(- 
Fatimid) caliphs had given them, such as Nasir-ad-dawlah, Sayf ad-dawlah,— and 
Mu'izz-ad-dawlah. They kept to this (even) when they exchanged the 'Ubaydid(- 
Fatimid) propaganda for that of the 'Abbasids. Later on, as the distance between 
them and the caliphate grew, they forgot the period of (the caliphate). They forgot 
these titles and restricted themselves to the name of Sultan. The same was the case 
with the Maghrawah rulers in the Maghrib. The only title they adopted was that of 
Sultan, in accordance with Bedouin custom and desert austerity. 

At the time when the name of the caliphate had become extinct and its 
influence non-existent, the Lamtunah (Almoravid) ruler Yusuf b. Tashfin made his 
appearance among the Berber tribes in the Maghrib. He became the ruler of both 
shores. He was a good and conservative man who, consequently, in order to comply 
with all the formalities of his religion, wished to submit to the caliphal authority. He 
addressed himself to the 'Abbasid al-Mustazhir and sent to him two shaykhs from 
Sevilla as his ambassadors, 'Abdallah b. al-'Arabi and ('Abdallah's) son, Judge Abu 

Bakr.-QQ They were to transmit the oath of allegiance to (al-Mustazhir) and were to 
ask him to appoint and invest Ibn Tashfin as ruler over the Maghrib. They returned 
with the caliphal appointment of Ibn Tashfin as ruler over the Maghrib and with 
(permission to) use the caliphal style in dress and flag. In (the document, the caliph) 

addressed (Ibn Tashfin) as "Commander of the Muslims," in order to honor and 
distinguish him. Ibn Tashfin, therefore, took that as his title. Others say that he had 
been called "Commander of the Muslims" before that, out of deference to the high 
rank of the caliphate, because he and his people, the Almoravids, practiced Islam 
and followed the Sunnah. 

The Mahdi (of the Almohads) followed upon the (Almoravids). He made 
propaganda for the truth. He adopted the tenets of the Ash'arites and criticized the 
Maghribis for having deviated from them by returning to the ancestral tradition of 
rejecting allegorical interpretation of explicit statements of the religious law, a 

rejection that leads to (anthropo morphism), 4^2 as j s known from the Ash'arite 
school. He called his followers Almohads (champions of the strict oneness of God), 
displaying (by the choice of that name) his disapproval (of anthropomorphism). He 


followed the opinion of the 'Alids with regard to "the Infallible Imam" who 
must exist in every age and whose existence preserves the order of the world. (Al- 
Mahdi) was at first called Imam, in accordance with the afore-mentioned Shi'ah 
practice with regard to the title of their caliphs. The word al-ma'sum (infallible) was 
linked (with Imam) to indicate his tenet concerning the infallibility of the Imam. In 
the opinion of his followers, he was above the title of Commander of the Faithful. 
(To avoid this title) was in accordance with the tenets of the old Shi'ah, and (he also 
avoided it), because to use it meant sharing it with the foolish young descendants of 
the caliphs who were alive in the East and the West at that time. 'Abd-al-Mu'min, 
who was appointed successor to (the Mahdi), did adopt the title of Commander of 
the Faithful. His successors, the caliphs of the Banu 'Abd-al-Mu'min, followed his 

example, and so did their successors, the Hafsids in Ifriqiyah.^1 They appropriated 
it exclusively as their own, since their shaykh, the Mahdi, had made (religious) 
propaganda (justifying the use of) that (title) and since the power belonged to him 
and to his friends (clients) who succeeded him and to nobody else, because 
Qurashite group feeling had completely ceased to exist. Thus, (the use of the title) 
came to be their custom. 

When governmental (authority) in the Maghrib lapsed and the Zanatah took 
power, their first rulers continued the ways of desert life and simplicity and followed 
the Lamtunah (Almoravids) in using the title of Commander of the Muslims, out of 
deference to the high rank of the caliphate. They rendered obedience, first to the 
caliphate of the Banu 'Abdal-Mu'min, and afterwards to that of the Hafsids. The 
later (Zanatah) rulers aspired to the title of Commander of the Faithful, and are 
using it at this time to comply fully with royal aspirations and the ways and 
characteristics of royal authority. "God has the power to execute His commands." 

405 


31. Remarks on the words "Pope” and "Patriarch 
in the Christian religion and on the word 
"Kohen" used by the Jews. 


It should be known that after the removal of its prophet, a religious 
group must have someone to take care of it. (Such a person) must cause the people 
to act according to the religious laws. In a way, he stands to them in the place 
( khalifah , caliph) of their prophet, in as much as (he urges) the obligations which 
(the prophet) had imposed upon them. Furthermore, in accordance with the 

aforementioned 40^ need for political leadership in social organization, the human 
species must have a person who will cause them to act in accordance with what is 
good for them and who will prevent them by force from doing things harmful to 
them. Such a person is the one who is called ruler. 

In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the 
universalism of the (Muslim) mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to 
Islam either by persuasion or by force. Therefore, caliphate and royal authority are 
united in (Islam), so that the person in charge can devote the available strength to 

both of them at the same time. 

The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war 
was not a religious duty to them, save only for purposes of defense. It has thus come 
about that the person in charge of religious affairs in (other religious groups) is not 
concerned with power politics at all. (Among them,) royal authority comes to those 
who have it, by accident and in some way that has nothing to do with religion. It 
comes to them as the necessary result of group feeling, which by its very nature 

seeks to obtain royal authority, as we have mentioned before, 4^2 and not because 
they are under obligation to gain power over other nations, as is the case with Islam. 
They are merely required to establish their religion among their own (people). 

This is why the Israelites after Moses and Joshua remained unconcerned with 

royal authority for about four hundred years Their only concern was to establish 
their religion. The person from among them who was in charge of their religion was 
called the Kohen. He was in a way the representative (caliph) of Moses. He 
regulated the prayers and sacrifices of the Israelites. They made it a condition for 
(the Kohen) to be a descendant of Aaron, as it had been destined for him and his 

children by divine revelation.^!! For (supervision of the) political matters which 
naturally arise among human beings, the Israelites selected seventy elders who were 
entrusted with a general legal authority. The Kohen was higher in religious rank than 
they and more remote from the turbulent legal authority. This continued to be (the 
situation among the Israelites) until the nature of group feeling made itself fully felt 
and all power became political. The Israelites dispossessed the Canaanites of the 
land that God had given them as their heritage in Jerusalem and the surrounding 
region, as it had been explained to them through Moses. The nations of the 

Philistines, the Canaanites, the Armenians [!],412-the Edomites, the Ammonites, and 
the Moabites fought against them. During that (time), political leadership was 
entrusted to the elders among them. The Israelites remained in that condition for 
about four hundred years. They did not have any royal power and were annoyed by 


attacks from foreign nations. Therefore, they asked God through Samuel, one of 
their prophets, that He permit them to make someone king over them. Thus, Saul 

became their king. He defeated the foreign nations and killed 413 Goliath, the ruler 
of the Philistines. After Saul, David became king, and then Solomon. His kingdom 
flourished and extended to the borders of the Hijaz and further to the borders of the 
Yemen and to the borders of the land of the Romans (Byzantines). After Solomon, 
the tribes split into two dynasties. This was in accordance with the necessary 
consequence of group feeling in dynasties, as we have mentioned before. One of the 
dynasties was that of the ten tribes in the region of Nablus, the capital of which is 

Samaria (Sabastiyah),414 and the other that of the children of Judah and Benjamin 
in Jerusalem 415. Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, then deprived them of their 

royal authority. He first (dealt with) the ten tribes in Samaria (Sabastiyah),41£ and 
then with the children of Judah in Jerusalem. Their royal authority had had an 
uninterrupted duration of a thousand years. Now he destroyed their temple, burnt 

their Torah, and killed their religion. He deported the people to Isfahan HI and the 
'Iraq. Eventually, one of the Persian Kayyanid (Achaemenid) rulers brought them 
back to Jerusalem, seventy years after they had left it. They rebuilt the temple and 
reestablished their religion in its original form with priests only. The royal authority 
belonged to the Persians. 

Alexander and the Greeks then defeated the Persians, and the Jews came 
under Greek domination. The Greek rule then weakened, and, with the help of 
(their) natural group feeling, the Jews rose against the Greeks and made an end to 
their domination over them. (Jewish) royal authority was in charge of their 
Hasmonean priests. (The Hasmoneans) fought the Greeks. Eventually, their power 
was destroyed. The Romans defeated them, and (the Jews) came under Roman 
domination. (The Romans) advanced toward Jerusalem, the seat of the children of 
Herod, relatives by marriage of the Hasmoneans and the last remnant of the 
Hasmonean dynasty. They laid siege to them for a time, finally conquering 
(Jerusalem) by force in an orgy of murder, destruction, and arson. They laid 
Jerusalem in ruins and exiled (the Jews) to Rome and the regions beyond. This was 
the second destruction of the temple. The Jews call it "the Great Exile." After that, 
they had no royal authority, because they had lost their group feeling. They 
remained afterwards under the domination of the Romans and their successors. Their 
religious affairs were taken care of by their head, called the Kohen. 

The Messiah (Jesus) brought (the Jews) his religion, as is known. He 
abolished some of the laws of the Torah. He performed marvelous wonders, such as 

healing the insane — and reviving the dead. Many people joined him and believed 
in him. The largest group among his following were his companions, the Apostles. 
There were twelve of them. He sent some of them as messengers (Apostles) to all 
parts of the world. They made propaganda for his religious group. That was in the 
days of Augustus, the first of the Roman emperors, and during the time of Herod, 
the king of the Jews, who had taken away royal authority from the Hasmoneans, his 
relatives by marriage. The Jews envied (Jesus) and declared him a liar. Their king, 
Herod, wrote to the Roman Emperor, Augustus, and incited him against (Jesus). The 
Roman Emperor gave (the Jews) permission to kill him, and the story of Jesus as 

recited in the Qur'an occurred 419 

The Apostles divided into different groups. Most of them went to the country 
of the Romans and made propaganda for the Christian religion. Peter was the 

greatest of them. He settled in Rome, the seat of the Roman emperors. They — then 
wrote down the Gospel that had been revealed to Jesus, in four recensions according 
to their different traditions. Matthew wrote his Gospel in Jerusalem in Hebrew. It 


was translated into Latin by John, the son of Zebedee, one of (the Apostles). (The 
Apostle) Luke wrote his Gospel in Latin for a Roman dignitary. (The Apostle) John, 
the son of Zebedee, wrote his Gospel in Rome. Peter wrote his Gospel in Latin and 
ascribed it to his pupil Mark. These four recensions of the Gospel differ from each 
other. Not all of it is pure revelation, but (the Gospels) have an admixture of the 

words of Jesus and of the Apostles. Most — of (their contents) consists of sermons 
and stories. There are very few laws in them. 

The Apostles came together at that time in Rome and laid down the rules of 
the Christian community. They entrusted them to Clement, a pupil of Peter, noting in 
them the list of books that are to be accepted and in accordance with which one 
must act. 

(The books which) belong to the old religious law of the Jews are the 
following: 

The Torah, which consists of five volumes. 

The Book of Joshua. 

The Book of Judges. 

The Book of Ruth. 

The Book of Judith.— 

The four Books of Kings. 

The Book of Chronicles.— 

The three Books of Maccabees, by Ibn Gorion.^^ 

The Book of Ezra, the religious leader. 

The Book of Esther — and the story of Haman. 

The Book of Job the Righteous. The Psalms of David. 

The five Books of David's son, Solomon. 

The sixteen Prophecies of the major and minor prophets. 

The Book of Jesus, the son of Sira, the minister of Solomon. 

(The books of) the religious law of Jesus that was received by the Apostles 
are the following: 

The four recensions of the Gospel. 

The Book of Paul which consists of fourteen epistles. 

The Katholika (General Epistles) which consist of seven epistles, the eighth 
being the Praxeis (Acts), stories of the Apostles. 

The Book of Clement which contains the laws. 

The Book of the Apocalypse (Revelation) which contains the vision of John, 
the son of Zebedee. 

The attitude of the Roman emperors toward Christianity varied. At times, 
they adopted it and honored its adherents. At other times, they did not recognize it 
and persecuted its adherents and killed and exiled them. Finally, Constantine 
appeared and adopted Christianity. From then on, all (the Roman emperors) were 

Christians. 

The head of the Christian (community) and the person in charge of (Christian 
religious) institutions is called Patriarch. He is their religious head and the 
representative (caliph) of the Messiah among them. He sends his delegates and 
representatives to the remote Christian nations. They are called "bishop," that is, 
delegate of the Patriarch. The man who leads the prayers and makes decisions in 
religious matters is called "priest." The person who withdraws from society and 
retires into solitude for worship is called "monk." The latter usually seek solitude in 
(monastic) cells. 

The Apostle Peter, the chief Apostle and oldest of the disciples, was in Rome 


and established the Christian religion there. Nero, the fifth Roman emperor, killed 
him — Successor to Peter at the Roman see was Arius. 

Mark the Evangelist spent seven years in Alexandria and Egypt and the 
Maghrib making propaganda. After him came Ananias, who was called Patriarch. He 
was the first Patriarch there. He appointed twelve priests to be with him, and it was 
arranged that when the Patriarch died, one of the twelve should take his place, and 
one of the faithful — be elected to take his place as the twelfth priest. Thus, the 
patriarchate fell to the priests. 

Later on, dissension broke out among the Christians with regard to the basic 
principles and articles of their religion. They assembled in Nicea in the days of 
Constantine, in order to lay down (the doctrine of) true Christianity. Three hundred 
and eighteen bishops agreed upon one and the same doctrine of Christianity. They 
wrote it down and called it "the Creed." They made it the fundamental principle to 
which they would ah have reference. Among the things they set down in writing was 
that with respect to the appointment of the Patriarch as the head of Christianity, no 
reference should be made to the independent judgment of the priests, as Ananias, the 
disciple of Mark, had prescribed. That point of view was abolished. The Patriarch 
was to come from a large group and to be elected by the leaders and chiefs of the 
believers. It has been so ever since. Later on, other dissensions arose concerning the 
basic principles of Christianity. Synods concerned with regulating (the religion), 
were assembled, but there was no dissension with regard to the basic principles (of 
the method of selecting the Patriarch). It has remained the same ever since. 

The Patriarchs always appointed bishops as their delegates. The bishops used 
to call the Patriarch "Father," as a sign of respect. The priests similarly came to call 
the bishop "Father," when he was not together with the Patriarch, as a sign of 
respect. This caused confusion in the use of the title over a long period, ending, it is 
said, with the Patriarchate of Heraclius in Alexandria. It was considered desirable to 
distinguish the Patriarch from the bishop in the matter of respect (shown to him by 
style of address). Therefore, the Patriarch was called "Pope," that is, "Father of 
fathers." The name (of "Pope") first appeared in Egypt, according to the theory 

expressed by Jirjis b. al-'Amid — in his History. It was then transferred to the 
occupant of the most important see in (Christianity), the see of Rome, which was 
the see of the Apostle Peter, as we have mentioned before. The title of Pope has 
remained characteristic of the see of Rome down to this day. 

Thereafter, there were dissensions among the Christians with regard to their 
religion and to Christology. They split into groups and sects, which secured the 
support of the various Christian rulers against each other. At different times there 
appeared different sects. Finally, these sects crystallized into three groups, which 
constitute the (Christian) sects. Others have no significance. These are the 
Melchites, the Jacobites, and the Nestorians. We do not think that we should blacken 
the pages of this book with discussion of their dogmas of unbelief. In general, they 
are well known. A11 of them are unbelief. This is clearly stated in the noble Qur'an. 
(To) discuss or argue those things with them is not up to us. It is (for them to choose 
between) conversion to Islam, payment of the poll tax, or death. 

Later on, each sect had its own Patriarch. The Patriarch of Rome is today 
called "Pope." He is of the Melchite persuasion. Rome belongs to the European 
Christians. Their royal authority is established in that region. 

The Patriarch of the (Christian) subjects in Egypt is of the Jacobite 
persuasion. He resides among them. The Abyssinians follow the religion of (the 
Egyptian Christians). The Patriarch of Egypt delegates bishops to the Abyssinians, 
and these bishops arrange religious affairs in Abyssinia. The name of "Pope" is 


specially reserved for the patriarch of Rome at this time. The Jacobites do not call 
their patriarch "Pope." The word (Pope) is pronounced Pappa. 

It is the custom of the Pope with respect to the European Christians to urge 
them to submit to one ruler and have recourse to him in their disagreements and 
agreements, in order to avoid the dissolution of the whole thing. His purpose is to 
have the group feeling that is the strongest among them (concentrated upon one 
ruler), so that (this ruler) has power over all of them. The ruler is called "Emperor" 

(Emperador), with the middle letter 421 (pronounced somehow) between dh and z. 
(The Pope) personally places the crown upon the head of (the emperor), in order to 
let him have the blessing implied (in that ceremony). The emperor, therefore, is 
called "the crowned one." Perhaps that is the meaning of the word "emperor." 

This, briefly, is our comment on the two words Pope and Kohen. 

"God leads astray whomever He wants to lead astray, and He guides 
whomever He wants to guide." — 


32. The ranks of royal and governmental authority 
and the titles that go with those ranks. 


It — should be known that, by himself, the ruler is weak, and he carries a 
heavy load. He must look for help from his fellow men. He needs their help for the 
necessities of life and for all his other requirements. How much more, then, does he 
need it to exercise political leadership over his own species, over the creatures and 
servants of God whom God entrusted to him as subjects. He must defend and protect 
the community from its enemies. He must enforce restraining laws among the 
people, in order to prevent mutual hostility and attacks upon property. This includes 

improving the safety of the roads — He must cause the people to act in their own 
best interests, and he must supervise such general matters involving their livelihood 
and mutual dealings as foodstuffs and weights and measures, in order to prevent 

cheating. — He must look after the mint, in order to protect the currency used by 
the people in their mutual dealings, against fraud. — He must exercise political 
leadership and get people to submit to him to the degree he desires and be satisfied, 
both with his intentions regarding them and with the fact that he alone has all the 
glory and they have none. This requires an extraordinary measure of psychology. 

— A noble sage has said: "Moving mountains from their places is easier for me 
than to influence people psychologically. 437a 

It is better that such help be sought from persons close to the ruler through 
common descent, common upbringing, or old attachment to the dynasty. This makes 
such persons and the ruler work together in the same spirit. God said: "Give me my 
brother Aaron as helper (wazir) from my family. Give me strength through him and 

let him participate in my business." 438 

The person from whom the ruler seeks help may help him with the sword, or 
with the pen, or with advice and knowledge, or by keeping the people from 
crowding upon him and diverting him from the supervision of their affairs. (The 
ruler may) also entrust the supervision of the whole realm to him and rely upon his 
competence and ability for the task. Therefore, the help the ruler seeks may be given 
by one man, or it may be distributed among several individuals. 

Each of the different (instruments) through which help may be given has 
many different subdivisions. "The pen" has such subdivisions, for instance, as "the 
pen of letters and correspondence," "the pen of diplomas — and fiefs," and "the pen 
of bookkeeping," which means the offices of chief of tax collections and allowances 
and of minister of the army. "The sword" includes such subdivisions, for instance, 
as the offices of chief of military operations, chief of police, chief of the postal 
service, — and administration of the border regions. 

It should further be known that governmental positions in Islam fell under 
the caliphate, because the institution of the caliphate was both religious and worldly, 

as we have mentioned before.— The religious laws govern all (governmental 
positions) and apply to each one of them in all its aspects, because the religious law 

governs all the actions of human beings. Jurists — therefore, are concerned with the 
rank of ruler or sultan and with the conditions under which it is assumed, whether 


by gaining control over the caliphate —-this is what is meant by sultan-— or by 
the caliph delegating (power) -that is what they mean by wazir, as will be 
mentioned. (They are also concerned with) the extent of (the ruler's) jurisdiction 
over legal, financial, and other political matters, which may be either absolute or 
circumscribed. Furthermore, (they are concerned with the causes) that necessitate 
(the ruler's) removal, should (such causes) present themselves, and with other things 
connected with the ruler or sultan. Jurists are likewise concerned with all the 
positions under the ruler and sultan, such as the wazirate, the tax collector's office, 

and the administrative functions. — Jurists must concern themselves with all these 
things, because, as we have mentioned before, in Islam the caliphate is an institution 
of the Muslim religious law, and as such determines the position of the ruler or 
sultan. 

However, when we discuss royal and governmental positions, it will be as 
something required by the nature of civilization and human existence. It will not be 
under the aspect of particular religious laws. This, one knows, is not our intention in 
this book. There is no need to go into details with regard to the religious laws 
governing these positions. The subject is fully treated in the books on administration 
( al-Ahkam as-sultaniyah), such as the work (of that title) by Judge Abul-Hasan al- 
Mawardi and the works of other distinguished jurists. Those who want to know the 
details should look them up there. If we discuss the caliphal positions and treat them 
individually, it is only in order to make the distinction between them and the 
governmental ( sultan ) positions clear, and not in order to make a thorough study of 
their legal status. This is not the purpose of our book. Thus, we shall discuss those 
matters only as the necessary result of the nature of civilization in human existence. 

God gives success. 


The wazirate 

The wazirate is the mother of governmental functions and royal ranks. The 
name itself simply means "help." Wizarah (wazirate) is derived either from 
mu'azarah "help," or from wzzr "load," as if the wazir were helping the person 
whom he supports to carry his burdens and charges. Thus, the meaning comes down 
to no more than "help." 446 

We mentioned before, at the beginning of this section,— that the conditions 
and activities of the ruler are restricted to four fields: 

(1) (His activities) may concern ways and means of protecting the 
community, such as the supervision of soldiers, armaments,, war operations, and 
other matters concerned with military protection and aggression. The person in 
charge is the wazir, as the term was customarily used in the old dynasties in the 
East, and as it is still used at this time in the West. 

(2) Or, they may concern correspondence with persons far away from the 
ruler in place or in time,— and the execution of orders concerning persons with 
whom the ruler has no direct contact. The man in charge is the secretary ( katib ). 

(3) Or, they may concern matters of tax collection and expenditures, and the 
safe handling of these things in all their aspects. The man in charge is the chief of 
tax and financial matters. In the contemporary East, he is called the wazir. 

(4) Or, they may concern ways to keep petitioners away from the ruler, so 
that they do not crowd upon him and divert him from his affairs. This task reverts to 
the doorkeeper ( hajib ), who guards the door. 

The (ruler's) activities do not extend beyond these four fields. Each royal and 


governmental function belongs to one of them. However, the most important field is 
the one that requires giving general assistance in connection with everything under 
the ruler's direct control. This means constant contact with the ruler and 
participation in all his governmental activities. (All the activities) that concern some 
particular group of people or some particular department are of lower rank. (Among 
such activities are) the (military) leadership of a border region, the administration of 
some special tax, or the supervision of some particular matter, such as surveillance 
( hisbah ) of foodstuffs, or supervision of the mint.— All these activities are 
concerned with particular conditions. The persons in charge are, therefore, 
subordinate to those in general supervision, and the latter outrank them. 

It was this way throughout the whole pre- Islamic period. When Islam 
appeared on the scene and power was vested in the caliph, the forms of royal 
authority no longer existed, and all its functions disappeared, except for some 
advisory and consultative ones that were natural and continued to exist because they 
were unavoidable. The Prophet used to ask the men around him for advice and to 
consult them on both general and special (private) matters. In addition, he discussed 
other very special affairs with Abu Bakr. Certain Arabs familiar with the situation in 
the Persian, Byzantine, and Abyssinian dynasties, called Abu Bakr, therefore, Mu- 
hammad's "wazir." The word wazir was not known (originally) among the Muslims, 
because the simplicity of Islam had done away with royal ranks. The same 
relationship (as that between Muhammad and Abu Bakr) existed between 'Umar and 
Abu Bakr, and between 'Ali and 'Umar, and 'Uthmin and 'Umar. 

No specific ranks existed among the (early Muslims) in the fields of tax 
collection, expenditures, and bookkeeping. The Muslims were illiterate Arabs who 
did not know how to write and keep books. For bookkeeping they employed Jews, 
Christians, or certain non- Arab clients versed in it. (Bookkeeping) was little known 
among them. Their nobles did not know it well, because illiteracy was their 
distinctive characteristic. 

Likewise, no specific rank existed among (the early Muslims) in the field of 
(official) correspondence and (the transmission in writing) of orders to be executed. 
They were illiterate, and everyone could be trusted to keep a statement secret and to 
forward it safely (to its destination). Also, there were no political matters that would 
have required the use of (confidential secretaries), because the caliphate was a 
religious matter and had nothing to do with power politics. Furthermore, secretarial 
skill had not yet become a craft, its best (products or representatives) recommended 
to the caliph. Every individual was capable of explaining what he wanted in the 
most eloquent manner. The only thing lacking was the (technical ability to) write. 
(For this,) the caliph always appointed someone who knew how to write well, to do 
such writing as there was occasion for. 

Keeping petitioners away from the gates (of the caliph's court) was 
something that the religious law forbade (the caliphs) to do, and they did not do it. 
However, when the caliphate changed to royal authority and when royal forms and 
titles made their appearance, the first thing the dynasty did was to bar the masses 
from access (to the ruler). The rulers feared that their lives were in danger from 
attacks by rebels and others, such as had happened to 'Umar, to 'Ali, to Mu'awiyah, 
to 'Amr b. al-'As, and to others. Furthermore, were the people given free access (to 
the ruler), they would crowd upon him and divert him from state affairs. Therefore, 
the ruler appointed some person to take care of this for him and called him 
"doorkeeper" ((utjib). It has already been mentioned that 'Abd-al-Malik said to a 
doorkeeper whom he was appointing: "I have given you the office of keeper of my 
door, (and you are entitled to turn away anyone) save these three persons: the 
muezzin, because he is the missionary of God; the person in charge of the mails, for 


it (always) is something (important) that he brings; and the person in charge of food, 
lest it spoil." — 

Afterwards, royal authority flourished. The (official) councilor and assistant 
for tribal and group affairs and good relations (with the various tribes and groups) 
made his appearance. For him, the name of wazir was used. Bookkeeping remained 
in the hands of clients, Jews, and Christians. For (official) documents, a special 
secretary was appointed, as a precaution against possible publication of the ruler's 
secrets, something that would be disastrous to his role as political leader. This 
secretary was not as important as the wazir, because he was needed only for written 
matters, and not for matters that could be discussed orally. At that time, speech still 

preserved its old position and was uncorrupted.— Therefore, the wazirate was the 
highest rank throughout the Umayyad dynasty. The wazir had general supervision of 
all matters delegated to him — and in which he acted in a consultative capacity, as 
well as all other matters of a defensive or offensive nature. This also entailed the 

supervision of the ministry ( diwart ) of the army, the assignment of military 
allowances at the beginning of each month, and other matters. 

Then the 'Abbasid dynasty made its appearance. Royal authority flourished. 
The royal ranks were many and high ones. At that time, the position of wazir 
assumed an added importance. He became the delegate (of the caliph) as executive 
authority. His rank in the dynasty became conspicuous. Everyone looked toward the 
wazirate and submitted to it. Supervision of the bookkeeping office was entrusted to 
(the wazir), because his function required him to distribute the military allowances. 
Thus, he had to supervise the collection and distribution of (the money), and the 
supervision of (that task) was added to his (duties). Furthermore, supervision of "the 
pen" and (official) correspondence was entrusted to him, in order to protect the 
ruler's secrets and to preserve good style, since the language of the great mass had 
(by that time) become corrupt. A seal was made to be placed upon the documents of 
the ruler, in order to preserve them from becoming public. (That seal) was entrusted 
to (the wazir). 

Thus, the name of wazir came to include the functions of both "the sword" 
and "the pen," in addition to all the other things for which the wazirate stood and in 
addition to its function of giving assistance (to the ruler). In the days of ar-Rashid, 
Jafar b. Yahya was actually called "sultan," an indication of the general extent of his 
supervising power and control of the dynasty. The only governmental rank that he 
did not hold was the office of doorkeeper, and he did not hold it because he 
disdained to accept such an office. 

Then the 'Abbasid dynasty entered the period when control over the caliphs 
— was exercised (by others). That control was at times in the hands of the wazir. At 
other times, it was in the hands of the ruler. When the wazir gained control, it was 
necessary for him to be appointed the caliph's delegate to comply fully with the 

religious laws, as mentioned before. — At that time, the wazirate was divided into 
an "executive wazirate "-this happened when the ruler was in control of his affairs 
and the wazir executed his decisionsand a "delegated wazirate" -which happened 

when the wazir controlled the ruler and the caliph — delegated all the affairs of the 
caliphate, leaving them to his supervision and independent judgment. This has 
caused a difference of opinion as to whether two wazirs could be appointed at the 
same time to the "delegated wazirate." The same difference of opinion has existed 
with regard to the appointment of two imams at the same time, as was mentioned 
before in connection with the laws governing the caliphate. 

(The ruler) continued to be controlled in this way. NonArab rulers seized 


power. The identity of the caliphate was lost. The usurpers were not interested in 

adopting the caliphal titles, — and they disdained to share the same title with the 
wazirs, because the wazirs were their servants. Therefore, they used the names 
"amir" and "sultan." Those in control of the dynasty were called amir al-umara' or 
sultan, in addition to the ornamental titles which the caliph used to give them, as 
can be seen in their surnames.— They left the name wazir to those who held the 
office (of wazir) in the private retinue of the caliph. So remained the case down to 
the end of the ('Abbasid) dynasty. 

In the course of this long period, language had become corrupt — It became 
a craft practiced by certain people. Thus, it came to occupy an inferior position, and 
the wazirs were too proud to bother with it. Also, the wazirs were non- Arab, and 
neither eloquence (nor good style) could be expected of their language. People from 
other classes were chosen for (matters requiring Arabic eloquence and a good style). 
It was their specialty, and it came to be something that was at the service of (and 
subordinate to) the wazir. 

The name amir was restricted to the men in charge of war operations and the 
army and related matters, although (the amir) had power over the other ranks and 
exercised control over everything, either as (the ruler's) delegate or through being in 
control (of the government). This remained the situation. 

Very recently, the Turkish dynasty has made its appearance in Egypt. (The 
Turkish rulers) noticed that the wazirate had lost its identity, because the (amirs) had 
been too proud to accept it and had left it to men who were inclined to hold it in the 
service of the secluded (and powerless) caliph. The authority of the wazir had 
become secondary to that of the amir. (The wazirate) had become a subordinate, 
ineffectual office. Consequently, the persons who held high rank in the (Turkish) 
dynasty (as, for example, the amirs), disdained to use the name of wazir. The person 
in charge of legal decisions and supervision of the army at the present time, they 

call "deputy" ( na'ib ).4§Q They used the name wazir to designate (the person in 
charge of) tax collection. 

The Umayyads in Spain at first continued to use the name wazir in its 
original meaning. Later, they subdivided the functions of the wazir into several 
parts. For each function, they appointed a special wazir. They appointed a wazir to 
furnish an accounting of (government) finances; another to for (official) 
correspondence; another to take care of the needs of those who had suffered wrongs; 
and another to supervise the situation of people in the border regions. A (special) 
house was prepared for (all these wazirs). There, they sat upon carpets spread out for 
them and executed the orders of the ruler, each in the field entrusted to him. One of 
the wazirs was appointed liaison officer between the wazirs and the caliph. He had a 
higher position than the others, because he had constant contact with the ruler. His 
seat was higher than that of the other wazirs. He was distinguished by the title of 
"doorkeeper" ( hajib ). So it continued down to the end of the (Umayyad) dynasty. 
The function and rank of hajib took precedence over the other ranks. Eventually, the 
reyes de taifas came to adopt the title. The most important among them at that time 

was called "doorkeeper" (hajib), as we shall mention. 

Then, the Shi'ah dynasty (the ’Ubaydid-Fatimids) made its appearance in 
Ifriqiyah and al-Qayrawan. The people who supported it were firmly rooted in desert 
life. Therefore, they at first neglected such functions and did not use the proper 
names for them. Eventually, however, the dynasty reached the stage of sedentary 
culture, and (people) came to follow the tradition of the two preceding dynasties (the 
Umayyads and the 'Abbasids) with regard to the use of titles, as the history of the 
('Ubaydid-Fatimid dynasty) reveals. 


When, later on, the Almohad dynasty made its appearance, it at first 
neglected the matter because of its desert attitude, but eventually it, too, adopted 
names and titles. The name wazir was used in its original meaning. Later the tradi- 
tion of the (Spanish) Umayyad dynasty was followed with regard to government 
matters and the name wazir was used for the person who guarded the ruler in his 
court and saw to it that embassies and visitors to the ruler used the proper forms of 
greeting and address, and that the requisite manners were observed in his presence. 
The office of doorkeeper was considered by (the later Almohads) a much higher 
one. — It has continued to be this way down to the present time. 

In the Turkish dynasty in the East, the (official) who sees to it that people use 
the proper modes of address and greeting at court and when embassies are presented 

to the ruler, is called the dawadar.— His office includes control of the "private 
secretary" (katib as-sirr ) and of the postmasters (intelligence agents) who are active 
in the ruler's interest both far and near. Such is the condition of the Turkish dynasty 
at this time. 

God takes charge of affairs. 


The office of doorkeeper (hijibah)4§4 

We have already mentioned— that in the Umayyad and 'Abbasid dynasties 
the title of doorkeeper ( hajib ) was restricted to the person who guarded the ruler 
from the common people and would not give them access to him, or only in such 
ways, and at such times, as he determined. (The office of doorkeeper) was lower in 
rank at that time than the other functions and subordinate to them, because the wazir 
could intervene whenever he saw fit. This was the situation during the whole 
'Abbasid period, and the situation still persists at this time. In Egypt, (the office of 
doorkeeper) is subordinate to the person in charge of the highest function there, who 
is called "deputy" ( na'ib ). 

In the Umayyad dynasty in Spain, the office of doorkeeper was that of the 
person who guarded the ruler from his entourage and from the common people. He 
was the liaison officer between the ruler and the wazirs and lower (officials). In the 
(Umayyad) dynasty, the office of doorkeeper was an extremely high position, as 

(Umayyad) history shows. Men like Ibn Hudayr and others held the office of 
doorkeeper in (the Umayyad dynasty). 

Later, when the (Umayyad) dynasty came under the control of others, the 
person in control was called doorkeeper (hajib), because the office of doorkeeper 
had been such a distinguished one. Al-Mansilr b. Abi 'Amir, as well as his two sons, 

4^2. were hajibs. After they had openly adopted the external forms of royal 
authority, they were succeeded by the reyes de taifas. The latter, also, did not fail to 
use the title of . jib. It was considered an honor to possess it. The most powerful of 
(the reyes de taifas) used the royal style and titles, and then inevitably mentioned the 
titles hajib and dul l-wizaratayn (Holder of the Two Wazirates), meaning the 
wazirates of "the sword" and "the pen." The title of hajib referred to the office that 
guarded the ruler from the common people and from his entourage. Dhu l- 
wizaratayn referred to the fact that (the holder of the title) combined the functions of 
"the sword" and "the pen." 

In the dynasties of the Maghrib and Ifrigiyah, no mention was made of the 
title of (doorkeeper), on account of their Bedouin attitude. Occasionally, but rarely, 
it is found in the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimid) dynasty in Egypt. That was at the time when 
(the ’Ubaydid-Fatimids) had become powerful and used to sedentary culture. 


In the Almohad dynasty which made its appearance (subsequently), 
sedentary culture, which calls for the use of titles and the separation of government 
functions with distinctive names, only became firmly established late (in the 
dynasty). The only rank they had at first was that of wazir, which they used for the 
secretary who participated with the ruler in the administration of his special (private) 
affairs. Men such as 

Ibn 'Atiyah and 'Abd-as-Salam al-Kumi held the position. (Such a 
wazir) had, in addition to his main duty, to take care of bookkeeping and all the 
financial business. Later on, the name of wazir was given to relatives of the 

(Almohad) dynasty, such as Ibn Jami' and others. The name of doorkeeper 
( hajib ) was not known at that time in the (Almohad) dynasty. 

In the Hafsid dynasty of Ifriqiyah, the top position was at first in the hands of 
a wazir who gave advice and counsel. He was called "Shaykh of the Almohads." He 
had to take care of appointments and dismissals, the leadership of the army, and war 
operations. Bookkeeping and the ministry ( diwan of tax collection) were another, 
separate rank. The person in charge of it was called Sahib al-ashghal (Manager of 

Financial Affairs) — He had complete charge of income and expenditures. He 
audited the finances, collected payments, and punished defaulters. One condition 
was that he be an Almohad. "The pen" was also a separate office under (the 
Almohads). It was only entrusted to a person with good knowledge of (official) 
correspondence and who could be trusted with secrets. Since people (of consequence 
in the dynasty) had no professional knowledge of writing and the proper use of their 
language for (official) correspondence, a particular descent was not a condition of 
appointment to that office. 

The royal authority of the (Hafsid) ruler was very farflung, and a great 
number of dependents lived in his house. Therefore, he needed a steward to be in 
charge of his house. (That steward had the duty) properly to apportion and fix the 
salaries, allowances, garments, kitchen and stable expenditures, and other things. He 
was in control of the stores (in the treasuries) and had the duty of telling the tax 
collectors to provide for (the quantities and amounts of money) needed. He was 
called doorkeeper (hajib). Occasionally, the function of signing (official) documents 

— was added to his duties, if he happened to have a good knowledge of writing. 
However, that function was occasionally given to somebody else. It continued to be 
this way. The ruler stayed in seclusion,— and the doorkeeper (hajib) became the 
liaison officer between the people and all the officials. In the later (years) of the 
dynasty, the offices of "the sword" and of war operations were added to his duties. 
At this time it also became his duty to give advice and counsel. Thus, his office 
became the highest in rank and included all government functions. For some time 
after (the reign of) the twelfth ruler — of the (Hafsids), the government was 
controlled by others, and the ruler kept in seclusion. Afterwards, his grandson Sultan 
Abul- 'Abbas, regained control of his affairs. He removed the vestiges of seclusion 
and (outside) control by abolishing the office of doorkeeper (hajib), which had been 
the stepping stone toward (control of the government)— He handled all his affairs 
himself without asking anyone else for help. This is the situation at the present time. 

There is no trace of the title of doorkeeper (hajib) among the Zanatah 
dynasties in the Maghrib, of which the most important is the dynasty of the 
Merinids. Leadership of war operations and of the army belongs to the wazir. The 
rank of "the pen," as far as it is concerned with bookkeeping and (official) 
correspondence, goes to the person who knows these things well, even though it 
may be in the private possession of certain houses among followers of the dynasty. 
Sometimes, (the office) is kept in (the same family), sometimes it is shared with 


others. 


They have a separate rank for the office (whose function it is to) guard the 
ruler's door and to protect the ruler himself from the common people. The person 
who holds that office is called by them mizwar,— that is, commandant of the elite 
troops (jindar) who are employed at the court of the ruler and responsible for 
executing his orders, enforcing the punishments he metes out, executing the severe 
measures he takes, and guarding the inmates of his prisons. Their chief (the mixwar ) 
has charge of the court. He has to see to it that people behave properly in the 
(reception) hall where the common people (are received). His office is something 
like a minor wazirate. 

The dynasty of the 'Abd-al-Wadids shows no trace of any of these titles, nor 
does it have separate (government) functions, because of its Bedouin character and 
insufficient (power). (The 'Abd-al-Wadids) occasionally use the name doorkeeper 
( hajib ) for the person in charge of the ruler's personal household affairs, as was also 
the case in the Hafsid dynasty. He is given combined charge of bookkeeping and 
(official) documents, as also was the case among (the Hafsids). The reason for this is 
that (the 'Abd-al-Wadids) simply followed the tradition of the dynasty to which they 
had been subservient and whose propaganda they had been supporting when they 
started their career. 

Present-day Spaniards call the person in charge of bookkeeping and of the 
ruler's activities and of all the other financial matters, wakil (manager). The wazir 
(there) has the same duties as the wazir (usually has), but he is also in charge of 
(official) correspondence. The ruler (himself) puts his signature to all documents. 
Thus, the Spaniards do not have a separate office of signer of documents (' alamah ) 
as other dynasties have. 

In the Turkish dynasty in Egypt, the name of doorkeeper (hajib) is used for 
persons of authority (hakim) among the men who hold power, that is, the Turks. 
These persons have to enforce the law among the people in the town. There are 
numerous (hajibs). The office of (hajib) among (the Turks) is lower than that of 
na'ib, which has general jurisdiction over both the ruling class and the common 
people. The na'ib has the authority to appoint and remove certain officials at the 
proper times. He may grant and fix small salaries. His orders and decrees are 
executed as those of the ruler. He is the ruler's delegate in every respect. The 
doorkeepers (hajib), on the other hand, have jurisdiction over the various classes of 
common people and over the soldiers only when a complaint (against them) is 
lodged with them. They can use force against those who do not want to submit to 
(their) judgment. They rank below the na'ib. 

In the Turkish dynasty, the wazir is the person in charge of collecting all the 
different kinds of taxes: the land tax, customs duties, and the poll tax. He also (is in 
charge of) the disposition of (the tax revenue) for government expenditures and the 
fixed stipends (for soldiers and government employees). In addition, he can appoint 
or remove all officials, whatever their rank and description, who are concerned with 

tax collection and disbursement.- It is a custom of (the Turks) that the wazir be 
appointed from among the Copts in charge of the office of bookkeeping and tax 
collection, because in Egypt they have been familiar with these matters since ancient 
times. Occasionally, the ruler appoints to that office a member of the ruling group, 
one of the Turkish grandees or one of their descendants, as occasion may arise. 

God administers and governs all affairs in His wisdom. There is no God but 

Him. 


The ministry (diwan) of (financial) operations and taxation 


The ministry of taxation is an office that is necessary to the royal authority. It 
is concerned with tax operations. It guards the rights of the dynasty in the matters of 
income and expenditures. It takes a census of the names of all soldiers, fixes their 
salaries, and pays out their allowances at the proper times. In this connection 
recourse is had to rules set up by the chiefs of (tax) operations and the stewards of 
the dynasty. They are all written down in a book which gives all the details 
concerning income and expenditures. It is based upon a good deal of accounting, 
which is mastered only by those who have considerable skill in (tax) operations. The 
book is called the diwan. At the same time, (the word diwan ) designates the place 
where the officials who are concerned with these matters have their offices. 

The name is said to have had the following origin. One day, Khosraw looked 
at the secretaries in his ministry (diwan). They were all engaged in their separate 
calculations, and it looked as if they were talking to themselves. The king 
exclaimed: "Dewaneh" -which is Persian for "crazy." — As a result, the place where 
they were working was called by that name. The ending -eh was dropped, because 
the word was so much used, and dropping the -eh made it easier to pronounce. The 
word thus became diwan. Later, it came to signify the (tax) book which contained 
the rules and computations. 

Another story is that diwan is the Persian name for the devils. The secretaries 
were called "devils" because of their quick comprehension, their understanding of 
both the obvious and the difficult, and their ability to combine random and disparate 
facts. The name was then extended to designate the offices where they worked. In 
this sense, the name diwan was taken over by the secretaries in charge of (official) 
correspondence and used to designate the place where their offices were located in 
the ruler's court, as will be mentioned later on. — 

One person is in charge of this office. He supervises all the operations of this 
kind. Each branch has its own supervisor. In some dynasties supervision of the 
army, of military fiefs, of keeping count of allowances, and of other (such) things, is 
constituted as separate offices. (Whether this is done or not) depends on the 
organization of a given dynasty and the arrangements made by its first rulers. 

It should be known that the office of (tax collections) originates in dynasties 
only when their power and superiority and their interest in the different aspects of 
royal authority and in the ways of efficient administration have become firmly 
established. The first to set up the diwan in the Muslim dynasty was 'Umar.— The 
reason is said to have been the arrival of Abu Hurayrah with money from al- 
Bahrayn. (The Muslims) thought that it was a very large sum, and they had trouble 
with its distribution. They tried to count the money and to establish how it should be 
paid out for allowances and claims. On that occasion, Khalid b. al-Walid advised the 
use of the diwan. He said: "I have seen the rulers of Syria keeping a diwan. " 'Umar 
accepted the idea from Khalid. 

It has also been said that the person who advised 'Umar to introduce the 
diwan was al-Hurmuzan.— He noticed that (military) missions were dispatched 
without a diwan (a muster roll). He asked (’Umar): "Who would know if some of 
(the soldiers) disappeared? Those who remain behind might leave their places and 
abscond with the money that had been given to them for their services (if they could 
assume that their desertion would not be noticed). Such things should be noted down 
exactly in a book. Therefore, establish a diwdn for them." 'Umar asked what the 
word diwdn meant, and it was explained to him. When he agreed to (have a diwdn), 

he ordered 'Aqil b. Abi Talib,— Makhramah b. Nawfal,^^ and Jubayr b. 

Mut'im,— all of them secretaries of the Quraysh, to write down the diwan of the 


Muslim army. 

(The diwan was arranged) according to family relationships and began with 
the relatives of the Prophet and continued according to the degree of relationship. 
This was the beginning of the ministry (diwan) of the army. 

Az-Zuhri — reported on the authority of Sa'id b. alMusayyab — that this 
took place in al-Mubarram of the year twenty [December, 640/January, 641]. 

After the advent of Islam, the ministry (diwan) of the land tax and tax 

collections remained as it had been. The (diwan) of the 'Iraq used Persian, and 
that of Syria Byzantine Greek. The secretaries of the diwans were Muslim subjects 
of the two groups. Then, with the appearance of 'Abd-alMalik b. Marwan, the form 
of the state became that of royal authority. People turned from the low standard of 
desert life to the splendor of sedentary culture and from the simplicity of illiteracy 
to the sophistication of literacy. Experts in writing and bookkeeping made their 
appearance among the Arabs and their clients. Thus, 'Abd-al-Malik ordered 
Sulayman b. Sa'd, then governor of the Jordan (province), to introduce the use of 
Arabic in the diwan of Syria. Sulayman completed the task in exactly one year to 
the day. Sarhitn, — 'Abd-al-Malik's secretary, looked at (the situation) and said to 
the Byzantine secretaries: "Seek you a living in another craft, because God has taken 
this one from you." 

Al-Hajjaj ordered his secretary Salih b. 'Abd-ar-Rahman to introduce the use 
of Arabic, instead of Persian, in the diwan of the 'Iraq. Salih knew how to write both 
Arabic and Persian. He had learned it from Zadanfarrfikh, his predecessor as 
secretary to al-Hajjaj. When Zadan was killed in the war against 'Abd-ar-Rahman b. 

al-Ash'ath ^£2 al-Hajjaj appointed Salih as his successor. (Salih now carried out al- 

Hajjaj's order and introduced the use of Arabic in the diwan). He succeeded in doing 
that and in overcoming the reluctance of the Persian secretaries. 'Abd-al-Hamid b. 

Yahya — used to say: "Salih was an excellent man. He was a great boon to the 
secretaries." 

Later on, in the 'Abbasid dynasty, the office was added to the duties of (the 
wazir) who supervised the man in charge of it. This was the case under the 
Barmecides and the Banu Sahl b. Nawbakht and other 'Abbasid wazirs. 

Certain religious laws attach to the office. They concern the army, the 
income and expenditures of the treasury, and it, is the differing tax situations of the 
different regions, which depend on whether they had surrendered (peacefully) to the 
Muslim conquerors or had been conquered by force. Then, there is the question as to 
who makes appointment to the office. There are also the conditions governing the 
person in charge and the secretaries, as well as the rules according to which the 
accounts are to be kept. All (these legal problems) belong to the books on 
administration (al-Ahkam as-sultaniyah) and are written down in them. It is not the 
purpose of this book to deal with them. We discuss the subject only as it has to do 
with the nature of royal authority, in the discussion of which we are presently 
engaged. 

This office constitutes a large part of all royal authority. In fact, it is the third 
of its basic pillars. Royal authority requires soldiers, money, and the means to 
communicate with those who are absent. The ruler, therefore, needs persons to help 
him in the matters concerned with "the sword," "the pen," and finances. Thus, the 
person who holds the office (of tax collections) has (a good) part of the royal 
authority for himself. 

This was the case under the Umayyad dynasty in Spain and under its 
successors, the reyes de ta'ifas. In the Almohad dynasty, the man in charge of (the 


office) was an Almohad. 

He had complete freedom to levy, collect, and handle money, to control the 
activities of officials and agents in this connection, and then to make disbursements 
in the proper amounts and at the proper times. He was known as Sahib al-ashghal 
(financial affairs manager). Occasionally, in some places, the office was held by 

persons who had a good understanding of it, but were not Almohads. — 

The Hafsids gained control over Ifrigiyah at the time when the exodus from 

Spain took place. Exiled (Spanish) notables came to (the Hafsids). 222 Among them, 
there were some who had been employed in this (type of work) in Spain, such as the 

Banu Sa'id, 222 t he lords of Alcala near Granada, who were known as the Banu Abi 
1-Husayn. (The Hafsids) liked to have them for this (type of work). They entrusted 
them with the supervision of (tax) affairs, which was what they had been doing in 
Spain. They employed them and the Almohads alternately for this purpose. Later on, 
the accountants and secretaries took the office over for themselves, and the 
Almohads lost it. As the position of doorkeeper ( hajib ) became more and more 
important, and as his executive power came to extend over all government affairs, 

the institution of the Sahib al-ashghal ceased to be influential 224 jpg p erson i n 
charge of it was dominated by the doorkeeper (hajib) and became (no more than) a 
mere tax collector. He lost the authority he had formerly had in the dynasty. 

In the contemporary Merinid dynasty, the accounting of the land tax and 
(military) allowances is in the hands of one man. He audits all accounts. Recourse is 
had to his diwan, and his authority is second (only) to the authority of the ruler or 
wazir. His signature attests to the correctness of the accounts dealing with the land 
tax and (military) allowances. 

These are the principal governmental ranks and functions. They are high 
ranks, involving the exercise of general authority and (requiring) direct contact with 
the ruler. 

In the Turkish dynasty, the functions (under discussion) are divided. The 
person in charge of the diwan of (military) allowances is known as inspector of the 
army (nazir aljaysh). The person in charge of finances is called the wazir. He has 
supervision over the dynasty's diwan of general tax collection. This is the highest 
rank among the men who are in charge of financial matters. Among (the Turks), 
supervision of financial matters is spread over many ranks, because the dynasty rules 
a large (territory) and exercises great powers, and its finances and taxes are too vast 
to be handled by one man all by himself, however competent. Therefore, for the 
general supervision of (financial affairs), the man known as wazir is appointed. In 
spite of his (important position), he is second to one of the clients of the ruler who 
shares in the ruler's group feeling and belongs to the military (caste) and who is 

called Ustadh-ad-dar . 222 yhi s official outranks the wazir, who does all he can to 
do his bidding. He is one of the great amirs of the dynasty and belongs to the army 
and the military (caste). 

Other functions are subordinate to that of (the wazir) among (the Turks). All 
of them have reference to financial matters and bookkeeping, and are restricted in 
their authority to particular matters. There is, for instance, the inspector of the privy 
purse (nazir al-khass)-that is, the person who handles the ruler's private finances, 
such as concern his fiefs or his shares in the land tax and taxable lands that are not 

part of the general Muslim fist 226 y[ e j s unc j er the control of the amir, the Ustadh- 
ad-dar, but if the wazir is an army man, the Ustadh-ad-dar has no authority over 
him. The inspector of the privy purse also is under the control of the treasurer of the 
finances of the ruler, one of the latter's mamelukes, who is called Khazindar 


(treasurer), because his office is concerned with the private property of the ruler. 

Such is the nomenclature — used in connection with the function of (financial 
administration) in the Turkish dynasty in the East. We have mentioned how it was 
handled in the Maghrib. 

God governs all affairs. There is no Lord except Him. 


The ministry (diwan) of (official) correspondence and writing 

This office is not required by the nature of royal authority. Many dynasties 
were able to dispense with it completely, as, for example, the dynasties rooted in the 
desert and which were not affected by the refinements of sedentary culture and high 
development of the crafts. 

In the Muslim dynasty, the Arabic language situation and (the custom of) 
expressing what one wanted to express in good form intensified the need for the 
office. Thus, writing came to convey, as a rule, the essence of a matter in better 
stylistic form than was possible in oral expression. The secretary to an (Arab) amir 
was customarily a relative and one of the great of his tribe. This was the case with 
the caliphs and leading personalities among the men around Muhammad in Syria 
and the 'Iraq, because of the great reliability and genuine discretion (of relatives and 
tribesmen). 

When the language became corrupt and a craft (that had to be learned),— 
(the office) was entrusted to those who knew (Arabic) well. Under the 'Abbasids, it 
was a high office. The secretary issued documents freely, and signed his own name 
to them at the end. He sealed them with the seal of the ruler, which was a signet 
upon which the name of the ruler or his emblem was engraved. It was impressed on 
a red clay mixed with water and called sealing clay. The document was folded and 
glued, and then both sides was sealed with (the seal). Later on, the documents were 
issued in the name of the ruler, and the secretary (merely) affixed his signature 
(' alamah ) — to them at the beginning or end. He could choose where he wanted to 
put it as well as its wording. 

The office then lost standing through the fact that officials of other 
government ranks gained in the ruler's esteem or because the wazir gained control 
over (the ruler). The signature of a secretary became ineffective (as a sign of 
authority) and was replaced by the signature of his superior, and this was now 
considered decisive. (The secretary) affixed his official signature, but the signature 
of his superior made the document valid. This happened in the later (years) of the 
Hafsid dynasty, when the office of doorkeeper (hajib) gained in esteem and the 
doorkeeper became the delegate of the ruler and then came to control him. The 
signature of the secretary became ineffective (as a sign of authority) but was still 
affixed to documents, in acknowledgment of its former importance. The doorkeeper 
(hajib) made it the rule for the secretary to sign letters of his by affixing a 

handwritten (note) for which he could choose any formula of ratification he 
wished. The secretary obeyed him and affixed the usual mark. So long as the ruler 
was in control of his own affairs, he saw to the matter himself (and made it the rule 
for the secretary) to affix the signature. 

One of the functions of the secretary's office is the tawqi. It means that the 
secretary sits in front of the ruler during his public audiences and notes down 
( yuwaqqi '), in the most concise and stylistically most perfect manner, the decisions 
he receives from the ruler concerning the petitions presented to him. These 
decisions are then issued as they are, or they are copied in a document which must 
be in the possession of the petitioner. The person who formulates a tawqi' needs a 


great deal of stylistic skill, so that the tawqi' has the correct form. Ja'far b. Yahya 
used to write tawqi's on petitions for ar Rashid and to hand the petition (with the 
tawqi') back to the petitioner. Stylists vied with each other to obtain his tawqi's, in 
order to learn the different devices and kinds of good style from them. It has even 

been said that such petitions (with Ja'far's tawqi' on them) were sold for a dinar.— 
Things were handled in this manner in (various) dynasties. 

It should be known that the person in charge of this function must be 
selected from among the upper classes and be a refined gentleman of great 
knowledge and with a good deal of stylistic ability. He will have to concern himself 
with the principal branches of scholarship, because such things may come up in the 
gatherings and audiences of the ruler. In addition, to be a companion of kings calls 
for good manners and the possession of good qualities of character. And he must 
know all the secrets of good style, to be able to write letters and find the words that 
conform to the meaning intended. 

In some dynasties, the rank (of secretary) is entrusted to military men, since 
(some) dynasties, by their very nature, have no regard for scholarship, on account of 
the simplicity of group feeling (prevailing in them). The ruler gives his government 
offices and ranks to men who share in his group feeling. Appointments to the 
financial administration, to "the sword," and to the office of secretary, are made 
from among them. "The sword" requires no learning. But the financial 
administration and the secretaryship need it, for the latter requires a good style and 
the former requires accounting skill. Therefore, (rulers) select people from the 
(learned) class for the office of secretary, when there is need for it, and entrust it to 
them. However, the secretary is subordinate to the higher authority exercised by the 
men who share in the ruler's group feeling, and his authority derives from that of his 
superior. This is the case with the Turkish dynasty in the East at this time. The 
office of chief secretary belongs to the "secretary of state" ( Sahib al-insha'). 
However, the secretary of state is under the control of an amir from among the men 
who share in the group feeling of the ruler. This man is known as the Dawidar.— 
The ruler usually relies upon him, trusts him, and confides in him, whereas he relies 
upon the (secretary) for matters that have to do with good style and the conformity 
(of the expression) to what one wants to express,— and other, related matters. 

The ruler who selects and picks a (secretary) from the rank and file has 
many conditions to consider. (These conditions governing the secretary) are best and 
most completely presented in the Epistle that the secretary 'Abd-al-Hamid addressed 

to his fellow secretaries. It runs as follows; 

And now: May God guard you who practice the craft of 
secretaryship, and may He keep you and give you success and 
guidance. There are prophets and messengers and highly honored 
kings. After them come different kinds of men, all of them made by 
God. They are of different kinds, even if they are all alike in fact. 

God occupied them with different kinds of crafts and various sorts of 
businesses, so that they might be able to make a living and earn their 
sustenance. He gave to you, assembled secretaries, the great 
opportunity to be men of education and gentlemen, to have 
knowledge and (good) judgment.— You bring out whatever is good 
in the caliphate and straighten out its affairs. Through your advice, 

God improves the government for the benefit of human beings and 
makes their countries civilized. The ruler cannot dispense with you. 

You alone make him a competent ruler. Your position with regard to 
rulers is that (you are) the ears through which they hear, the eyes 


through which they see, the tongues through which they speak, and 
the hands through which they touch. May God give you, therefore, 
enjoyment of the excellent craft with which He has distinguished you, 
and may He not deprive you of the great favors that He has shown 
unto you. 

No craftsman needs more than you to combine all praiseworthy good traits 
and all memorable and highly regarded excellent qualities, O secretaries, if you 
aspire to fit the description given of you in this letter. The secretary needs on his 
own account, and his master, who trusts him with his important affairs, expects him, 
to be mild where mildness is needed, to be understanding where judgment is 
needed, to be enterprising where enterprise is needed, to be hesitant where 
hesitation is needed. He must prefer modesty, justice, and fairness. He must keep 
secrets. He must be faithful in difficult circumstances. He must know (beforehand) 
about the calamities that may come. He must be able to put things in their proper 
places and misfortunes into their proper categories. He must have studied every 
branch of learning and know it well, and if he does not know it well, he must at 
least have acquired an adequate amount of it. By virtue of his natural intelligence, 
good education, and outstanding experience, he must know what is going to happen 
to him before it happens, and he must know the result of his actions before action 
starts. He must make the proper preparations for everything, and he must set up 
everything in its proper, customary form. 

Therefore, assembled secretaries, vie with each other to acquire the different 
kinds of education and to gain an understanding of religious matters. Start with 
knowledge of the Book of God and religious duties. Then, study the Arabic 
language, as that will give you a cultivated form of speech. Then, learn to write well, 
as that will be an ornament to your letters. Transmit poetry and acquaint yourselves 
with the rare expressions and ideas that poems contain. Acquaint yourselves also 
with both Arab and nonArab political events, and with the tales of (both groups) and 
the biographies describing them, as that will be helpful to you in your endeavors. Do 

not neglect to study accounting, for it is the mainstay of the land tax register. — 
Detest prejudices with all your heart, lofty ones as well as low ones, and all idle and 
contemptible things, for they bring humility and are the ruin of secretaryship. Do not 
let your craft be a low one. Guard against backbiting and calumny and the actions of 
stupid people. Beware of haughtiness, foolishness, and pride, for they mean 
acquiring hostility without (even the excuse of) hatred. Love each other in God in 
your craft. Advise your colleagues to practice it in a way befitting your virtuous, 
fair, and gifted predecessors. 

If times go hard for one of you, be kind to him and console him, until 
everything be well with him again. Should old age make one of you unable to get 
around and pursue his livelihood and meet his friends, visit him and honor him and 
consult him, and profit from his outstanding experience and mature knowledge. 
Every one of you should be more concerned for his assistants, who may be useful 
when needed, than for his own children or brothers. Should some praise come (to 
one of you) in the course of his work, he should ascribe the merit to his colleague; 
any blame he should bear all by himself. He should beware of mistakes and slips 
and of being annoyed when conditions change. For you, assembled secretaries, are 

more prompt to be blamed than Qur'an readers, — and blame is more detrimental to 
you than to them. You know that everyone of you has a master, one who gives from 
his own as much as can be expected, and (every one of you) has the obligation to 
repay him, since he deserves it, with fidelity, gratefulness, tolerance, patience, good 
counsel, discretion, and active interest in his affairs, and to show (his good 
intentions) by his actions whenever his master needs him and his resources. Be 


conscious of (your obligations) - God give you success - in good and bad 
circumstances, in privation as in munificence and kindness, in happiness as in 
misfortune. Any member of this noble craft who has all these qualities has good 
qualities indeed. 

If any one of you be appointed to an office, or if some matter that concerns 
God's children be turned over to one of you, he should think of God and choose 
obedience to Him. He should be kind to the weak and fair to those who have been 
wronged. All creatures are God's children. He loves most those who are kindest to 
His children. Furthermore, he should judge with justice, he should honor the noble 
(descendants of Muhammad), augment the booty (gained in wars against infidels), 
and bring civilization to the country. He should be friendly to the subjects, and 
refrain from harming them. He should be humble and mild in his office. He should 

be kind in handling the land tax registers - 1 — and in calling in outstanding claims. 

You should explore the character of him with whom you associate. When his 
good and bad sides are known, you will be able to help him to do the good things 
that agree with him, and be able to contrive to keep him from the bad things he 
desires. You must be able to do that in the subtlest and best manner. You know that 
a person who is in charge of an animal and understands his job, endeavors to know 

the character of the animal. If it is inclined to gallop,— he does not goad it when he 
is riding it. If it is inclined to kick, he takes precautions with its forelegs. If he fears 
that it will shy, he takes precautions with its head. If it is restive, he gently subdues 
its desire to go where it wants to go. If it still continues, he pulls it slightly to the 
side, then has its halter loosened. This description of how to take care of an animal 
contains good points for those who want to lead human beings and deal with them, 
serve them, and have intimate contact with them. The secretary, with his excellent 
education, his noble craft, his subtlety, his frequent dealings with people who confer 
with him and discuss things with him and learn from him or fear his severity, needs 
to be kind to his associates, t0 flatter them, and to supply their wants, even more 
than the person in charge of an animal which cannot answer, does not know what is 
right, does not understand what is said to it, and goes only where its master who 
rides upon it makes it go. Be kind - God show mercy unto you- when you look after 
things. Use as much reflection and thought as possible. God permitting, you will 
thus escape harshness, annoyance, and rudeness on the part of your associates. They 
will be in agreement with you, and you will have their friendship and protection, if 
God wills. 

None of you should have too sumptuous an office or go beyond the proper 
limits in his dress, his mount, his food, his drink, his house, his servants, or in the 
other things pertaining to his station, for, despite the nobility of the craft by which 
God has distinguished you, you are servants who are not permitted to fall short in 
their service. You are caretakers whom one does not permit to be wasteful or 
spendthrift. Try to preserve your modesty by planned moderation in all the things I 
have mentioned and told you. Beware of the wastefulness of prodigality and the bad 
results of luxury. They engender poverty and bring about humiliation. People who 
(are prodigal and live in luxury) are put to shame, especially if they be secretaries 
and men of education. 

Things repeat themselves. One thing contains the clue to another. Let 

yourselves be guided in your future undertakings "by your previous experience. 

Then, choose the method of doing things that is most definite, most accurate, and 
that promises the best result. You should know that there is something that defeats 
accomplishment, namely, talking about things. The person who does it is prevented 
from using his knowledge and his ability to think. Therefore, everyone of you, while 


he is in his office, should endeavor to talk no more than is sufficient; he should be 
concise in the matters he brings up and in the answers he gives; and he should give 
thought to all the arguments he advances. His work will profit from that. It will 
prevent too much preoccupation with other things. He should implore God to grant 
him success and to support him with His guidance, for he must fear making mistakes 
that might hurt his body and (cast doubt upon) his intelligence and education. When 
any one of you says or thinks that the high quality and efficiency of his work is 
obviously the result of his own cleverness and knowledge of how to do things, he 
provokes God. God will let him depend upon himself alone, and then he will find 
that he is not adequate to his task. This is no secret to those who reflect. 

None of you should say that he has a better understanding of affairs, or 
knows better how to handle difficult matters, than other members of his craft, than 
those who serve together with him. Of two persons, discerning people consider him 
the more intelligent who throws off conceit and thinks his colleagues more 
intelligent and more skillful than he. But at any rate, both parties should 
acknowledge the excellence of God's favors. No one should let himself be deceived 
by his own opinions and consider himself free from mistakes. Nor should he strive 
to outdo his friends, equals, colleagues, or his family. Everybody must give praise to 
God, in humility in the face of His greatness, in meekness in the face of His might, 
and in fulfillment of the command to speak of God's favors.— 

In this letter of mine, let me refer to the old proverb: "He who accepts good 

advice — all is successful." This is the essence of this letter and the best that is said 
in it, after the references to God it contains. Therefore, I have placed it at the end, 
and I close the letter with it. May God take care of us and of you, assembled 
students and secretaries, in the same way He takes care of those whom, as He knows 
in His prescience, He will make happy and guide aright. He can do it. It is in His 
hand. 

Farewell, and God's mercy and blessings upon you. 


The police ^12 

In Ifriqiyah, the holder (of the office of chief of police) is at this time called 
the "magistrate" (hakim). In Spain, he is called the "town chief" ( sahib al-madinah). 
In the Turkish dynasty (in Egypt), he is called the "governor" (wa/z). It is an office 
that is subordinate to the person in charge of "the sword" in the dynasty, who at 
times uses the (chief of police) to execute his orders. 

The office of (chief of) police was originally created by the 'Abbasid 
dynasty. The person who held it had (a twofold duty. He had,) firstly, to concern 
himself with crimes in the investigating stage, and, secondly, to execute the legal 
punishments. The religious law cannot concern itself with suspicions of possible 
criminal acts. It can concern itself only with executing the legal punishments. 
Political leadership, on the other hand, has to concern itself with the investigating 
stage, in which is (ascertained the commission of crimes) necessitating (legal 
punishments). It does this through the magistrate, who, being in the possession of all 
the circumstantial evidence, forces (the criminal) to confess, as is required by the 
general (public) interest. The person in charge of the investigating stage and of 
executing afterwards the legal punishments due, when the judge has no (longer) 
anything to do with (the case), was called "chief of police." Occasionally, he was 
given sole jurisdiction over capital crimes and legal punishments, and those matters 
were taken away from the judge's jurisdiction. This rank was considered one of great 
reputation, and was entrusted to high military leaders and important clients of the 
court entourage. It implied no general executive power over all classes, its 


jurisdiction extending only over low and suspect elements and (involving) the 
restraining of turbulent and criminal people. 

Among the Spanish Umayyads, the (office of chief of police) acquired great 
celebrity. It was divided into a "great police" and a "small police." The jurisdiction 
of the "great police" was made to extend over both the upper and the lower classes. 
It had jurisdiction over government dignitaries, and, in cases of wrongdoing, could 
restrain them, their relatives, and other persons of rank who were connected with 
them as clients. The chief of the "small police" was concerned only with the 
common people. The chief of the "great police" had his seat at the gate of the palace 

of the ruler. He had footmen ( raji ) who occupied places near him, ^13 which they 
did not leave except to go about his business. (The office) was entrusted only to 
great personalities of the dynasty. It even became a stepping stone to the wazirate 
and to the office of doorkeeper ( hajib ). 

In the Almohad dynasty in the Maghrib, (the office) enjoyed a certain 
reputation, even though it did not have general (jurisdiction). It was entrusted only 
to important Almohad personalities. It did not have authority over government 
dignitaries. Nowadays, its importance has greatly decreased. It no longer is the 
preserve of Almohad personalities, and may be entrusted to any follower (of the 
dynasty) who (is able to) take charge of it. 

In the Merinid dynasty at this time in the West, (the office) is vested in the 
houses of Merinid clients and followers. 

In the Turkish dynasty in the East, (the office is entrusted) to Turkish 
personalities or to descendants of the people of the preceding Kurdish dynasty. 

(Incumbents) are chosen for (the office) in both regions ^14 according to the energy 
and resolution they show in enforcing the law. The purpose is to cut down 
corruption, to stamp out criminality, to destroy and dissolve the homes and centers 
of criminal activity, and to enforce the punishments imposed by the religious law 
and by the political authorities, as concern for the general (public) interests in a 
town requires. 

God causes the change of night and day. ^15 


The admiralty 

(The admiralty) is one of the ranks and functions of the dynasty in the realm 
of the Maghrib and Ifriqiyah. It is subordinate to the person in charge of "the sword" 
and comes under his authority in many respects. In customary usage, the person in 

charge of the admiralty is called Almiland,— with an emphatic /. (The word) is 
derived from the language of the European Christians. It is the technical term for the 
office in their language. 

The rank (of admiral) is restricted to the realm of Ifriqiyah and the Maghrib, 
because both Ifriqiyah and the Maghrib are on the southern shore of the 
Mediterranean. Along its southern shore the lands of the Berbers extend from Ceuta 
to Alexandria and on to Syria. Along its northern shore are the countries of Spain 
and of the European Christians (Franks), the Slavs, and the Byzantines, also 

extending to Syria. It is called the Byzantine Sea or the Syrian Sea, — according to 
the people who inhabit its shores. Those who live along the coast and on the shores 
of both sides of the Mediterranean are more concerned with (maritime) conditions 
than any other maritime nation. 

The Byzantines, the European Christians, and the Goths lived on the northern 
shore of the Mediterranean. Most of their wars and most of their commerce was by 


sea. They were skilled in navigating (the Mediterranean) and in naval war. When 
these people coveted the possession of the southern shore, as the Byzantines 
(coveted) Ifriqiyah and as the Goths (coveted) the Maghrib, they crossed over in 
their fleets and took possession of it. Thus, they achieved superiority over the 
Berbers and deprived them of their power. They had populous cities there, such as 

Carthage, Sbeitla, Jalula,^18 Murnaq,— Cherchel, and Tangier. The ancient master 
of Carthage used to fight the master of Rome and to send fleets loaded with armies 
and equipment to wage war against him. Thus, (seafaring) is a custom of the 
inhabitants of both shores of the Mediterranean, which was known in ancient as in 
modern times. 

When the Muslims took possession of Egypt, 'Umar b. al-Khattab wrote to 
'Amr b. al-'As and asked him to describe the sea to him. 'Amr replied: "The sea is a 
great creature upon which weak creatures ride -like worms upon a piece of wood." 

Thus, he recommended at that time that the Muslims be kept away from 
seafaring. No Arab traveled by sea save those who did so without 'Umar's 
knowledge and were punished by him for it. 'Umar thus punished 'Arfajah b. 

Harthamah al-Azdi, the chief of the Bajilah.— He sent him on a raid against Oman, 

and he learned (later that he had raided it by sea). — He disapproved of his having 
made the raid by sea, and told him so in no uncertain terms. Thus it remained until 
Mu'awiyah's reign. He permitted the Muslims to go by sea and to wage the holy war 
in ships. The reason for this was that on account of their Bedouin attitude, the Arabs 
were at first not skilled in navigation and seafaring, whereas the Byzantines and the 
European Christians, on account of their experience of the sea and the fact that they 
had grown up traveling in ships, were used to the sea and well trained in navigation. 

The royal and governmental authority of the Arabs became firmly established 
and powerful at that time. The nonArab nations became servants of the Arabs and 
were under their control. Every craftsman offered them his best services. They 
employed seagoing nations for their maritime needs. Their own experience of the 
sea and of navigation grew, and they turned out to be very expert. They wished to 
wage the holy war by sea. They constructed ships and galleys and loaded the fleet 
with men and weapons. They embarked the army and fighters to fight against the 
unbelievers across the sea. This was the special concern of the provinces and border 
regions closest to the shores of the Mediterranean, such as Syria, Ifriqiyah, the 
Maghrib, and Spain. The caliph 'Abdal-Malik recommended to Hassan b. an- 

Nu'man,— the governor of Ifriqiyah, that a shipyard — be set up in Tunis for the 
production of maritime implements, as he was desirous of waging the holy war. 
From there, the conquest of Sicily was achieved in the days of Ziyadat- Allah I b. 

Ibrahim b. al-Aghlab under the leadership of the chief mufti, Asad b. al-Furat — 

Pantelleria — also was conquered in his day. Mu'awiyah b. Iludayj had been 
sent on a raid against Sicily in the days of Mu'awiyah b. Abi Sufyan, but God had 
not enabled him to conquer it. It was conquered by the Aghlabid ruler and his 
general, Asad b. al-Furat. 

Thereafter, under the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimids) and th